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Full text of "Perceval S Narrative A Patient S Account Of His Psychosis 1830-1832"

CZ 



123245 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 



A NARRATIVE 

or TBX 

TREATMENT EXPERIENCED 

Y A 



GENTLEMAN, 



A STATE OF 

MENTAL DERANGEMENT; 

DXIIOXKD 

TO EXPLAIN THE CAUSES AND THE NATURE 
or 

INSANITY, 

AVD TO EXPOSE THE INJUDICIOUS COJTDUCT fUJU*UJCi> TOWABDS MAHT 
THCFOETUNATM 8UTTRRfl UKDEE THAT CALAMITT. 

BY JOHN PERCEVAL, ESa 



EFFINGHAM WILSON, 

BOTALIXOHANGB. 
1840. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

A PATIENT'S ACCOUNT OF HIS PSYCHOSIS 

1830-1832 



EDITED BY 

GREGORY BATESON 



STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 

STAMFORD, CALIFORNIA, 1961 



Perceval's Narrative was originally 
published in two volumes, 1838 and 
1840, under a different title (see 
frontispiece). This edition contains 
all of the first volume and much of 
the second. 



Stanford University Press 

Stanford, California 

(c) 1961 by the Board of Trustees of the 
JLeland Stanford Junior University 

All rights reserved 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 6114652 
Printed in the United States of America 



INTRODUCTION 

ON THE AFTERNOON of Monday, May 11, 1812, a certain John 
Bellingham, a businessman, armed with two pistols, entered the 
House of Commons and waited for the then Prime Minister, Spen- 
cer Perceval. When the Prime Minister arrived Bellingham shot 
him and killed him. This event is Bellingham's only claim to 
fame and is certainly the most conspicuous item in what remains 
in human memory of the life of Spencer Perceval. 

A few days later Bellingham was hanged, and the House of 
Commons voted an indemnity of 50,000 pounds to the surviving 
family of the deceased Prime Minister. 

Before this the family had apparently been in somewhat strait- 
ened circumstances. There were six sons and six daughters and 
there are hints that the Prime Minister was pressed in his political 
and legal career by the needs of these "twelve ravenous Percevals." 
Be that as it may, the indemnity granted by Government undoubt- 
edly altered their circumstances very considerably and made it pos- 
sible, when the fifth son, John Perceval, became insane, to place 
him in what were undoubtedly some of the best lunatic asylums in 
the country. We are told that it cost 300 guineas to incarcerate 
him for fourteen months, much against his will, in the asylum of 
Dr. Fox at Brisslington near Bristol. 

It appears further that, after his recovery, his share of the in- 
demnity made him so independent that he could write and pub- 
lishagainst his family's wishes his Narrative. This consisted of 
two books, in which he makes contributions to our knowledge of 
schizophrenia, which entitle him to fame of a very different order 
from that achieved by his stuffy but ambitious father. 

In recent years a number of autobiographical books have been 
published dealing with the writers' experiences during psychosis, 
but in general the value of these works is as specimens of psychotic 
or postpsychotic utterance rather than as scientific contributions 
in their own right. John Perceval achieved something more. Parts 
of his narrative, especially those parts that he wrote in hospital, 
are marred by his need to justify his bitterness, but he went fur- 
ther. In his compulsive struggle to make sense of his psychotic ex- 



vi PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

periences, he discovered what we would today call the Freudian 
Unconscious and related this system of phenomena to what Freud 
later called the "psychopathology o everyday life" [p. 259]. He 
even observed the creative processes that occur during perception 
those processes by which we make after-images or attribute imagi- 
nary forms to ink blots or to clouds in the sky and he went on 
from this to realize that his own hallucinations might be phe- 
nomena of this sort. 

His theoretical position is perhaps midway between that of 
Freud and that of William Blake. What Blake called the Creative 
Imagination Perceval assigns to some inner action of the Almighty. 
His language is often that of theology, where his thoughts are those 
of a scientist. 

He says: ". . . the mind acts by beautiful and delicate ma- 
chinery, which is disorganized in all men by sin and violence by 
perverseness" [p. 291]. 

As his editor, working over what John Perceval wrote 120 years 
ago, I shall attempt two tasks: to summarize the information about 
John Perceval's life, and to call the reader's attention to some of 
Perceval's discoveries and to features of his story that have rele- 
vance and importance for modern psychiatry. 

THE AUTHOR'S LIFE 

John Thomas Perceval was the fifth son, among the twelve 
children of Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister. He was born 
in 1803, and was therefore nine years old when his father was 
killed in the House of Commons. When he was eleven his mother 
married again, her second husband being Lieutenant Colonel Sir 
Henry Carr, K.C.B. There were no children by this second mar- 
riage, and indeed the only reference to Sir Henry Carr in Perce- 
val's books is his occasional use of the name in letters to his 
mother. When angry, he addresses her, not as "Dear Mother," 
but as "Dear Lady Carr." 

His boyhood seems to have been conventional. He entered the 
army and first served as an officer with a regiment of cavalry. Later 
he held the rank of Captain in the ist Foot Guards. He saw over- 
seas service in Portugal without combat. 



INTRODUCTION VU 

Throughout this military period of his life, he was severely 
disturbed by religious conflict. His father had been a rabid anti- 
Catholic and an avid student of prophetic Scriptures, and now the 
son came under the influence of evangelical doctrines. 

Early in 1830, he sold his commission and went briefly to the 
University of Oxford. From there he traveled to Scotland in June 
1830 to inquire into the Row Miracles. This was an outburst of 
an extreme evangelical cult whose members were later called Irv- 
ingites. The devotees of the sect spoke with tongues in an unin- 
telligible gibberish which they partly believed to be the language 
of the Pelew Islands. They were also much concerned with the 
problems of sincerity and with the need to speak both from the 
heart and in a spiritually given utterance. 

Perceval was much impressed by the Irvingite doctrines, but it 
is evident that, even in this setting where gibberish was acceptable, 
Mary Campbell and other leaders of the group at Row felt that 
Perceval's behavior was too erratic. 

He went from Row to Dublin, and recounts that he then had 
relations with a prostitute and believed himself to have contracted 
syphilis. From this he made a rapid recovery, which he attributed 
partly to medical and partly to miraculous intervention. He nar- 
rates with retrospective humor the characteristically schizophrenic 
dilemma in which he then found himself whether to trust in 
God for the completion of his cure or to take the medicine which 
his doctor had ordered: he took half the prescribed dose. 

Within a few days he was behaving in an actively disordered 
manner and was placed under restraint on December 16, 1830, in 
the room of the inn where he was staying. His oldest brother, 
Spencer, fetched him from Dublin and placed him in the asylum 
run by the Drs. Fox at Brisslington near Bristol in January 1831. 
He remained in this institution until May 1832, when he was 
moved to the asylum of Mr. C. Newington at Ticehurst in Sussex. 
He seems to have remained in this second institution until the be- 
ginning of 1834. 

In 1834 he married Anna Gardner, by whom he had four 
daughters, the first born in 1836. 

In 1835 he was in Paris writing his first book, which was pub- 
lished in 1838. 



via PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

In 1840 the second book was published. 

He later edited a book of verse, "Poems by a Prisoner in Beth- 
lehem" by Arthur Legent Pearce. This was published in 1851. 

I have almost no information about the remainder of his life. 
In 1859 he gave evidence to the Select Committee for Lunacy on 
behalf of an organization called the "Alleged Lunatics Friends 
Society." He also wrote occasional letters to The Times on the 
subject of lunacy laws, still defending the unfortunate people 
whose hardships he had experienced. 

He died in 1876. 

PERCEVAL'S INSIGHTS 

Perceval asserts again and again that the patient knows more 
about the nature of insanity than either the general public or the 
"lunatic doctors" and he sees himself as having thp serious pur- 
pose of communicating to the world what insanity is like and how 
the insane should be treated. What he has to say on the subject is 
first and foremost this: that it is the task or duty o the physician 
or of those who love the patient to understand. The patient's utter- 
ance is not to be brushed off as crazy nor is his behavior to be 
penalized with cold tubs or manacles. 

This thesis is perhaps most clearly stated on the occasion when 
his oldest brother, Spencer, came to fetch him from Dublin: 

When my brother first appeared by my bed-side, "I have hopes now," 
said I, "I shall be understood and respected;" for he had written to me 
that he believed the reported mirades at Row. When, however, I first 
told him, "I am desired to say so and so," "I am desired to do this, or 
that" he replied to me, in an ill-judged tone of levity, and as if speak- 
ing to a child; ridiculing the idea. My hopes of being comprehended 
were blighted, and my heart turned from him [p. 52]. 

It is of course easy for the mental patient to argue that if only 
somebody else had done something different, he would not be in 
his present state; and it may be doubted whether, if Spencer had 
been both accepting and critical, John would have listened to him. 
But other material indicates that John's later recovery was facili- 
tated whenever he encountered primary acceptance accompanied 
by doubt or criticism. 



INTRODUCTION IX 

He says articulately in regard to his voices: "I perished from 
an habitual error of mind, . . . that of fearing to doubt, and of 
taking the guilt of doubt upon my conscience" [p. 37]. 

Perceval writes here, as often, with hindsight wisdom, as though 
it were only necessary to discover the uses of doubt in order to 
escape from a complex network of delusions. He ignores the facts 
of his own experience: that the courage to doubt his voices and 
his delusions grew in him slowly and painfully, and that the de- 
lusions themselves contributed to the process of this growth. Fear- 
ing to doubt, he falls into literal belief in his delusions and in 
what his voices tell him. But these messages are, after all, exag- 
gerated caricatures of his own distorted Puritanism and guilt. By 
their very nature his delusions contain, in an inverted or con- 
cealed form, the very doubts that he is afraid to entertain in a 
more conscious shape. These same delusions lead him to those 
experiences that are their reductio ad absurdum, and it is, among 
other things, these repeated experiences of the ridiculous that 
finally drive him sane. 

The phrase "taking the guilt of doubt upon my conscience" 
is a strange one, and we may well ask what precisely Perceval re- 
garded as his "habitual error." Perceval goes on to assert that 
doubt, being involuntary, is not appropriate grist for the con- 
science. "To reject persuasion wilfully is one crime; but to de- 
clare wilfully that we believe what we doubt, or presumptuously 
that our doubts are wilful, is another" [p. 37]. He was, above all, 
a Protestant and concerned to extend rather than restrict the do- 
main of the individual conscience. His error, as I read it, was a 
failure of responsibility. He ought not to have glutted his pride 
and weighted his conscience by branding doubt as "guilty." Ra- 
ther, he should have accepted doubt as a function of the individual 
mind to be responsibly exercised. He ought to have taken the 
responsibility for doubt upon his conscience. 

The whole of what Perceval has to say about the treatment 
that he wishes he had received turns upon this notion of responsi- 
bility. His brother Spencer should have given that acceptance 
which would have made the patient responsible for belief or doubt 
regarding the delusions. Merely to deny or to mock at the delusory 



X PERCEVAL S NARRATIVE 

material only subtracts from the patient's self-esteem. It asserts 
that he is incapable of the necessary wisdom and motivates him 
to a further caricaturing of his own imputed weakness. 

The black-and-white universe of the paranoid may appear very 
certain, but it is not founded on certainty. Rather, it is compen- 
satory. It is a denial of those accumulated inner fears and weak- 
nesses which long and bitter experience of being put in the wrong 
has built up. Perceval says nothing of what his parents and sib- 
lings did to him to reinforce these feelings of weakness and un- 
worthiness, but he narrates in some detail how he was treated by 
his hallucinatory voices. At the beginning of his psychosis in Dub- 
lin, he narrates: 

I was tormented by the commands of what I imagined was the Holy 
Spirit, to say other things, which as often as I attempted, I was fearfully 
rebuked for beginning in my own voice, and not in a voice given to me. 
These contradictory commands were the cause, now, as before, of the 
incoherency of my behaviour, and these imaginations formed the chief 
causes of my ultimate total derangement. For I was commanded to speak, 
on pain of dreadful torments, of provoking the wrath of the Holy Spirit, 
and of incurring the guilt of the grossest ingratitude; and at the same 
moment, whenever I attempted to speak, I was harshly and contume- 
liously rebuked for not using the utterance of a spirit sent to me; and 
when again I attempted, I still went wrong, and when I pleaded inter- 
nally that I knew not what I was to do, I was accused of falsehood and 
deceit; and of being really unwilling to do what I was commanded. I then 
lost patience, and proceeded to say what I was desired pell-mell, deter- 
mined to show that it was not fear or want of will that prevented me. 
But when I did this, I felt as formerly the pain in the nerves of my palate 
and throat on speaking, which convinced me that I was not only rebel- 
ling against God, but against nature; and I relapsed into an agonizing 
sense of hopelessness and of ingratitude [pp, 32-33]. 

Here the voices present him with the false thesis that there 
exist alternatives of action among which he might choose one 
course of which the voices would approve. He makes his choices 
and tries to obey, but is always blamed at some more abstract level 
e.g., for lack of sincerity. He is placed by the voices in what has 
been called a "double bind" such that even if he does the right 
thing he is blamed for doing it for the wrong reasons. 

And his final word, "ingratitude," suggests that this pattern of 



INTRODUCTION XI 

unconscious expectation that every course will lead to rejection- 
has probably been early instilled by the behavior of parents and 
siblings. 

Later the voices shift their ground: 

At another time, my spirits began singing to me in this strain. "You are 
in a lunatic asylum, if you will*' "if not, you are in," 8cc. See. "That is 
Samuel Hobbs if you will if not, it is Herminet Herbert," &c. &c. &c. But 
I had been so long deceived by my spirits that now I did not believe them 
when they spoke truth. However, by listening and finding that the pa- 
tients called him Samuel Hobbs, and by other accidents, I discovered at 
last that I was yet on earth, in natural, although very painful, circum- 
stances in a madhouse. My delusions being thus very much abolished, I 
soon after got liberty of limb during the day-time [p. 146], 

Here the voices are doing what Perceval wished his brother 
had done accepting the fact of the delusion and reinforcing the 
doubt. They are also presenting real alternatives between which 
the patient can and must choose, while indicating their willing- 
ness to accept either choice. Perceval remarks that it was very un- 
pleasant to have the voices do this, but he is honest enough to per- 
ceive that every time they do it he makes a step toward recovery. 

Here then Perceval presents, in two diagrammatic thumbnail 
sketches, the recipes, first for inducing his insanity and then for 
curing it. 

But the matter is not so simple. The therapist cannot just go 
on the wards and sing to the schizophrenic patients little ditties 
which will offer them alternatives instead of double binds. The 
therapist is (usually) not an hallucinated voice, and, in any case, 
what Perceval's voices do for him what he has them do is first to 
administer the pathogenic recipe and only later the curative. It is 
the combination of the two recipes that constitutes the total psy- 
chotic experience through which the patient must go in order to 
recover. 

This is one of the most interesting characteristics of the strange 
condition known as schizophrenia: that the disease, if it be one, 
seems sometimes to have curative properties. What Perceval tells 
us has been more generally recognized in recent years. We are 
today familiar with the fact that many of the so-called symptoms 



xii PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

of organic disease are the efforts that the body makes to correct 
some deeper pathology, and we are familiar with the fact that 
dreams, with or without interpretation, may contribute to the 
process of psychotherapy. There is even evidence that indicates 
that to be deprived of dreaming leads to psychic stress. 

The dynamics of the curative nightmare are, however, quite 
obscure. 

It is one thing to see the symptom as a part of a defense mech- 
anism; it is quite another to conceive that the body or the mind 
contains, in some form, such wisdom that it can create that attack 
upon itself that will lead to a later resolution of the pathology. 

Perceval's voices tear him down till he is nothing but a passive 
slob of "ingratitude." But they are his voices and he has them do 
this to him. Later he has them shift their ground and do to him 
something that is the converse of what they did earlier they pre- 
sent him with alternatives. But this too is painful. Again, in the 
process of getting well he achieves the appropriate attack upon 
himself. 

By mysterious unconscious processes, then, Perceval was able 
to orchestrate his own psychic experience to enforce his own pas- 
sage through psychosis, but this does not mean that it would have 
been at all simple for his brother Spencer, or for the doctors, to 
interact with Perceval in a way that would speed up the process. 
What he tells us about the asylums in which he was confined is, 
however, worth examining from this point of view. Were they 
effective? 

From the diatribes of a single patient in 1830, it is not possible 
to assess whether his treatment was more or less humane or more 
or less effective than that which a similar patient might encoun- 
ter in an expensive institution in 1961. It is evident, however, that 
the mental hospitals of that day were already trapped in the dilem- 
mas that beset such places today. Perceval's voices were able to 
provide him with gross and painful caricatures of double-bind 
experience, but the hospitals could only simulate this experience 
out of clumsiness and hypocrisy. Then as now, the principal 
modes of treatment were such as to reduce the patient's sense of 
his own worth and responsibility. To the strait jackets, the cold 
tubs, and the isolation rooms of those days, modern institutional 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

psychiatry has added the shock therapies and the tranquilizing 
drugs, but the principles of treatment are not much changed. 
Even in 1830, there was a strong desire on the part of the staff to 
keep the ward quiet, and even then there was a tendency to tell 
the patient as little as possible about decisions that concerned him 
and still less about the reasons for these decisions. All in all, much 
was done to increase the patient's sense of isolation and unworthi- 
ness, and he was provided with plenty of unexplained and painful 
experiences around which he could build delusional explanations. 

Perceval, as he began to realize the nature of the system that 
surrounded and controlled him, became enraged. He saw clearly 
the hypocrisy, the ignorance, and the venal motives of the prac- 
titioners, and, no doubt, this rage and this insight contributed 
much to his recovery. 

But, even then, the patients' rage was met with an increased 
intensity of treatment, and, then as now, patients noticed that 
these intensified treatments resembled punishment. 

Perceval's voices were grotesquely punitive and, with a carica- 
ture of injustice, reduced him to feelings of utter ingratitude; the 
doctors and the asylum staff attempted no less, but without cari- 
cature. The failure of the system is evident in Dr. Fox's letter 
[pp. 206-8], and Perceval is not slow to perceive the sanctimonious 
and self-contradictory character of this document. He sums the 
matter up: "Even now that suspicion still affects me, whether I 
am to consider that Dr. Fox was acting wittingly, or that from the 
habitual and unchecked practice of imposture he knew not what 
spirit he was of" [p. 207]. 

It thus appears that the system of treatment, while attempting 
to reduce the patients to self-repudiation, could not do so in a 
manner that would speed their passage through psychosis. The 
practitioners, whether trapped in good intentions or in the need 
to appear to have good intentions, were bound to a rigid system 
of conduct a system even more rigid than the exaggerated evan- 
gelicism of Perceval's voices. The latter, after all, could shift their 
ground and tone according to the needs of the patient. 

At this point a digression is necessary. Every recovered schizo- 
phrenic presents the problem how and why did recovery occur? 



xiv PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

And this problem is seen as especially urgent when the recovery 
is achieved with a minimum of medical interference. What is 
called "spontaneous remission" is regarded as a mystery. 

Perceval's narrative and some of the other autobiographical 
accounts of schizophrenics* propose a rather different view of the 
psychotic process. It would appear that once precipitated into 
psychosis the patient has a course to run. He is, as it were, em- 
barked upon a voyage of discovery which is only completed by his 
return to the normal world, to which he comes back with insights 
different from those of the inhabitants who never embarked on 
such a-voyage. Once begun, a schizophrenic episode would appear 
to have as definite a course as an initiation ceremony a death and 
rebirth into which the novice may have been precipitated by his 
family life or by adventitious circumstance, but which in its course 
is largely steered by endogenous process. 

In terms of this picture, spontaneous remission is no problem. 
This is only the final and natural outcome of the total process. 
What needs to be explained is the failure of many who embark 
upon this voyage to return from it. Do these encounter circum- 
stances either in family life or in institutional care so grossly mal- 
adaptive that even the richest and best organized hallucinatory 
experience cannot save them? 

Let us consider what sort of man Perceval was and to what ex- 
tent he is justified in claiming that he had completely recovered 
when he was writing the first book in Paris in 1835 and the chap- 
ters about his recovery in the second book. How sane is the anger 
of a man who must repetitiously justify his anger? How sane is a 
man whose final word to the world is the statement that he still 
intends to sue his mother for complicity with the Doctors Fox? 
How sane is a man who must assert his intention to escape from 
a lunatic asylum before he makes the actual attempt? How sane 
is a man who says: "I found that no patient could escape from his 
confinement in a truly sound state of mind, without lying against 
his conscience, or admitting the doctrine, that deception and du- 
plicity are consistent with' a sound conscience" [p. 125]. 

* Barbara O'Brien, Operators and Things (Arlington Books, 1958). 



INTRODUCTION XV 

All of these questions are interrelated and together give us a 
picture of a man, ridden by anger on the one hand and by over- 
scrupulosity on the other. These characteristics form a mutually 
promoting couple. The greater the anger, the more need to re- 
strain it by scrupulous examination of its justification; and the 
stronger the logical proof of justification, the greater the anger. 
This is a man singularly uncomfortable to live with. He would 
have been easier to live with had he been a little less upright and 
a little less angry all in all, a little less rigid. 

But the rigidity and the underlying violence of his character 
also provide the dynamics, whereby he is compelled to undertake 
the gigantic effort to make sense of his delusions and thereby to 
achieve his "recovery." He owed his recovery to those same per- 
sonal idiosyncrasies that had cast him into insanity. He indeed 
says this, though in a theological idiom: ". . . thus the Almighty 
condescended to heal by the imagination that which, by tricks 
on the imagination, he had wounded, broken and destroyed" 

IP. 3 o8j. 

Another question which we may appropriately ask about his 
recovery concerns the shifts and shadings of his belief in his hal- 
lucinatory voices. He recounts how he had taken the voices liter- 
ally at the beginning of his illness. Later he discovers what is now 
generally recognized, namely, that the utterances of a schizophren- 
ic and his delusions are to be taken as metaphoric rather than 
literal: "The spirit speaks poetically but the man understands it 
literally" [p. 271]. He even engages in humorous perhaps hebe- 
phrenic interchanges with his voices. He speaks of "a spirit of 
humour, which made me try to deceive my spirits" [p. 113]. 

He discovers also that his voices are remarkably unreliable 
that what they promise does not happen; and he recognizes that 
every such contradictory experience, while unpleasant, contributes 
to his recovery. 

He discovers the power of his imagination to create perceptions 
and images, either in the ear or in the eye, and this relieves much 
of his anxiety regarding the phenomena of hallucination. 

But in spite of all these discoveries, his voices are still in some 
sense real to him. Speaking of the acts that he performed in obe- 



xvi PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

dience to them he says: "I now know that scarcely one of the 
things I said, or one of the things I did, was I intended to perform" 
[p. 265]. 

The voices are still real, they still intend certain meanings; it 
was he that was in error in his understanding of them. This may 
be insanity, but it is not far from orthodox theology nor far from 
orthodox psychoanalytic theory in which the patient must learn 
a new way of understanding his dreams. 

He has returned to the normal world but with a new percep- 
tion of it. 

We now ask what system of circumstances may have been re- 
sponsible for forcing Perceval to embark upon this extraordinary 
voyage and what circumstances may have hindered its progress. 

The second of these questions is already partly answered by 
Perceval's comments upon the doctors and their institutions. They 
may have helped him by promoting rage, but they also hindered 
him by their inflexible need to appear virtuous and wise. 

If these were hindering and even exacerbating circumstances 
during the progress of the psychosis, it is reasonable to look for 
similar circumstances in Perceval's relations with his family to 
see whether these might not have been precipitating or conditional 
causes. 

He gives us no picture of his boyhood, so that all we have to 
go on is the sequence of steps through which he came to perceive 
his own role vis-i-vis his mother and his brothers. 

In the Preface to his second book he states: 

... he hopes to teach the wretched and affectionate relations of a de- 
ranged person, what may be his necessities, and how to conduct them- 
selves toward him, so that they may avoid the errors which were unfor- 
tunately committed by the author's own family. 

But he is not able to give clear recipes for how the relatives 
should behave. What is available in the narrative is a voluminous 
statement of how he felt and expressed himself toward his mother 
and toward his oldest brother, Spencer, during the period of his 
psychosis and recovery. Several times he identifies his family with 



INTRODUCTION 

the doctors and plans to sue both for their treatment of him. At 
other times he writes to his family letters which he hopes the 
doctors will see: 

I could not always overcome my exasperation. But even then I was fre- 
quently influenced by a spirit of bravado and defiance of the doctors, to 
whom I knew my letters were subjected for inspection; I was determined, 
if they declared that my anger at being confined, and at my treatment, 
was a proof of my madness, that they should have evidence enough of it 
[P. 211]. 

Such perverse behavior, deliberately provoking the outside 
world to do its damnedest, is characteristic of so many schizo- 
phrenics that their motto would seem to be "If things are not as 
I want them, I will prove it." 

He continues this discussion of the reasons for his sarcasm and 
violence with an extraordinary piece of insight: 

Even a deeper motive lay hid under all this violence of expression; and 
this may perhaps by many be deemed an insane motive: I knew that, of 
all the torments to which the mind is subject, there is none so shocking, 
so horrid to be endured as that of remorse for having injured or neg- 
lected those who deserved our esteem and consideration. I felt for my 
sisters, my brothers, and my mother: I knew they could not endure to 
look upon what they had done towards me, to whom they were once so 
attached, if they rightly understood it; that they could know no relief 
from the agony of that repentance which comes too late, gnawing the 
very vitals, but in believing me partly unworthy of their affection; and 
therefore I often gave the reins to my pen, that they might hereafter be 
able to justify themselves, saying he has forfeited our respect, he has 
thrown aside the regard due to his parentage and to his kindred lie has 
deserved our contempt, and merited our abandonment of him [pp. 211- 
12]. 

Perceval here puts his finger on a central theme of the rela- 
tionship between the psychotic and those closest to him. In almost 
every such family, it is possible to recognize that the psychotic 
individual has the functions of a necessary sacrifice. He must by 
his schizophrenic behavior conceal or justify those actions of the 
other members which evoked and still evokehis schizophrenia. 

One side of this picture is familiar. The rejected child is com- 
monly unable to accept the fact of rejection without giving the 



xviii PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

parent ample justification for it. To perceive that he was rejected 
unjustly would intolerably devalue the parent in the child's eyes. 
From this perception, he must therefore protect himself: 

I also found it a relief to my mind, to be able to say that there was 
some excuse for my relations' conduct towards me; for that which I found 
most insufferable, was the sense or the idea that I was treated with com- 
plete injustice, and without any cause of offense [p. 214], 

Such complex reversals of motive are exceedingly difficult for 
the parents to meet. They cannot perceive their own perfidy ex- 
cept as justified by the patient's behavior, and the patient will not 
let them perceive how his behavior is related to his view of what 
they have done and are now doing. The tyranny of "good inten- 
tions" must endlessly be served while the patient achieves an ironic 
sainthood, sacrificing himself in foolish or self-destructive actions 
until at last he is justified in quoting the Saviour's prayer: "Father, 
forgive them, they know not what they do. Amen" [p. 209]. 

This prayer is after all appropriate when we remember that 
the schizophrenic has devoted years to preventing his parents 
from seeing their own actions except within the frame of his mis- 
behavior. 

In sum, it appears that there is a strong formal analogy between 
the trap in which the doctors find themselves and that of the rela- 
tives of the schizophrenic. In each case there is an appearance of 
unyielding hypocrisy. There is, however, this difference, that the 
patient's love for his parents enforces upon him a deep secrecy 
regarding the sacrificial nature of his behavior. This secrecy is 
so strong in most schizophrenics as to be of the nature of a repres- 
sion. The patient himself cannot entertain consciously the idea 
that these are his motives. And Perceval makes a big stride toward 
sanity when he accepts this insight. 

It is reasonable to picture the young Perceval before his psy- 
chosis as a very rigid, disciplined, and careful young man with 
grotesque standards of honesty and a habit of distrusting passion. 
Consciously, he probably believed that honesty could only be 
achieved through an exact carefulness. Unconsciously this exact 
carefulness had the function of concealing the gross discrepancies 



INTRODUCTION XIX 

and lacunae in his relationship with his family. Before the psy- 
chosis his exactitude was his self-sacrificing mode. During psy- 
chosis, he passes through the phase of bitterness, where the vio- 
lence takes the place of the former precision. 

We may suppose that this code of concealment and sacrifice was 
in many ways uncomfortable and that his groping after evangelical 
religion was both a quest for some escape and a clinging to what- 
ever would support his careful uprightness. All this was a build-up 
of conditional causes; the actual precipitating cause may well have 
been his adventure with the Irvingites. Here he faced a new chal- 
lenge, the thesis that he ought as a religious man to combine sin- 
cerity with spontaneity and that he contained within himself an 
immanent supernatural force which he should allow to speak even 
nonsense through his mouth. 

These doctrines, which presented themselves under the guise 
of religion and which therefore were an acceptable variant on the 
dogmas of his childhood, were, however, an ironic converse of 
all that childhood discipline which he needed to conceal what was 
basically wrong in his previous way of life. 

It is interesting to follow his sexual history. The excitements 
of Row were immediately followed by his adventure with the 
prostitute in Dublin. For this he was punished by a real or imagi- 
nary venereal infection. He then plunged into psychosis and, as 
it seems, experienced two periods when his visions took on sexual 
forms of great beauty. The first of these periods he had to repu- 
diate as evil, the second he was able to accept as a miraculous gift 
of the Almighty, and almost immediately following his release 
from Newington's asylum he married. 

To evaluate a psychosis is perhaps impossible. Convention- 
ally, schizophrenia is regarded as a disease, and, in terms of this 
hypothesis, both the conditions necessary for it and the precipi- 
tating causes which bring on the attack must be regarded as dis- 
astrous. But it would appear that Perceval was a better, happier, 
and more imaginative man after his psychotic experience, and in 
this introductory essay I have suggested that the psychosis is more 
like some vast and painful initiatory ceremony conducted by the 
self. From this point of view, it is perhaps still reasonable to re- 



xx PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

gard the conditional causes with horror. The precipitating causes 
can only be welcomed. 

We shall not cease from exploration 
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time. 
T\ S. ELIOT, "Little Gidding"* 



BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE 

The title page of John Perceval's second book is reproduced as 
frontispiece to the present volume. The title page of the first is 
in a somewhat different type face but the wording is the same 
except for the omission of the author's name. The date of the first 
book is 1838. 

In content, the two books are almost entirely different. The 
first consists of a brief biography of the author up to the time of 
his confinement in Dr. Fox's asylum, followed by an extensive 
account of his fourteen months in that asylum. It terminates with 

the farewell speech of Dr. Fox, "Good bye, Mr. > I wish I could 

give you hopes of your recovery." 

The author tells us that the whole of the first book was written 
in Paris in 1835 after his confinement under Mr. Newington. He 
had left behind in England many documents and a diary which 
he had written at Dr. Fox's, and wrote the account from memory. 
This anonymous first volume ends with a postscript: "The Letters 
promised in an appendix at the end of the volume have been sup- 
pressed on the ground of delicacy by the advice of my Publisher/' 

The second book starts with a long invective Preface, which 
is omitted in the present volume. 

The Preface is followed by a confused two-page Introduction 
(here omitted) which he indicates was written in 1834, but in 
which he refers to the writing of the first book in Paris in 1835 and 
to its publication (1838). 

* From Four Quartets, copyright, 1943, by T. S. Eliot; reprinted by per- 
mission of Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. 



INTRODUCTION XXI 

There follow four chapters which are a preliminary draft, writ- 
ten in Newington's asylum in 1832, of the material which Perceval 
later expanded to form the first book. 

The second book continues with the reproduction of a number 
of letters and documents written at Dr. Fox's presumably the 
letters referred to as suppressed at the end of the first book. These 
are followed by an account of his troubles with Dr. Newington 
and his attempts to get the attention of the magistrates whose duty 
it was to supervise the treatment of the insane. 

This book also contains three magnificent chapters on the steps 
of his recovery. 

In reducing these two books to a single volume I have tried to 
give the reader everything pertinent to an understanding of John 
Perceval, his psychosis, and his narration of the steps by which 
he believed that his recovery was achieved. I have also included 
almost all the material relevant to his relations with his family. 

There are, however, many pages devoted to bitter protest 
against his family and against the institutions in which he was 
confined. That these protests were in many ways justified I have 
no doubt, and indeed a majority of those confined today in men- 
tal hospitals must with equal justification think similar bitter 
thoughts. The problem of how best to deal with the psychotic is 
still unsolved at the institutional level. But Perceval's justifica- 
tions of his bitterness become repetitive, and a sufficient sample 
of this material is already included with the narrative chapters. 

In detail the present volume is constructed as follows: 

1. It contains the whole of Perceval's first book. 

2. It omits the whole of his 26-page Preface and the two-page 
Introduction to the second book. 

3. Chapters I-III and the beginning of Chapter IV are omit- 
ted, so that in the present version the second book begins with 
the presentation of the letters written while he was at Dr. Fox's, 
which letters he says that he suppressed when he published the 
first book "on the ground of delicacy by the advice of my Pub- 
lisher." These letters become Chapter XXVIII of the present vol- 
ume. 

4. Chapters V and VI are omitted as being contentious and 
repetitive. 



xxii PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

5. The first three pages of Chapter VII have been omitted; 
the remainder is retained and becomes Chapter XXIX in the 
present volume. 

6. Chapter VIII is retained and becomes Chapter XXX. 

7. Chapter IX is omitted. 

8. Chapter X becomes Chapter XXXI. 
Chapter XI becomes Chapter XXXII. 
Chapter XII becomes Chapter XXXIII. 
Chapter XIII becomes Chapter XXXIV. 
Chapter XIV becomes Chapter XXXV. 
Chapter XV becomes Chapter XXXVI. 
Chapter XVI becomes Chapter XXXVII. 

9. Chapters XVII and XVIII describing Perceval's ineffectual 
appeals to the magistrates are here omitted, except for Perceval's 
letter in which he inquires about the possibility of resuming his 
career at Oxford. This letter becomes Chapter XXXVIII. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 



"By detailing and explaining his sufferings, and 
his complaints, and his difficulties he hopes to teach 
the wretched and affectionate relations of a deranged 
person, what may be his necessities, and how to con- 
duct themselves toward him, so that they may avoid 
the errors which were unfortunately committed by 
the author's own family." 

Author's Preface to 1840 edition. 



CHAPTER I 



IN the year 1830, I was unfortunately deprived of the use of 
reason. This calamity befel me about Christmas. I was then in 
Dublin. The Almighty allowed my mind to become a ruin under 
sicknessdelusions of a religious nature, and treatment contrary 
to nature. My soul survived that ruin. As I was a victim at first, 
in part to the ignorance or want of thought of my physician, so I 
was consigned afterwards to the control of other medical men, 
whose habitual cruelty, and worse than ignorance charlatanism 
became the severest part of my most severe scourge. I suffered 
great cruelties, accompanied with much wrong and insult; first, 
during my confinement, when in a state of childish imbecility in 
the year 1831; secondly, during my recovery from that state, be- 
tween November, 1831, and May,. 1833; thirdly, during the re- 
mainder of the year 1832, and the year 1833, when I considered 
myself to be of sane mind. Having been under the care of four 
lunatic doctors, whose systems of treatment differ widely from 
each otherhaving conversed with two others, and having lived 
in company with Lunatics, observing their manners, and reflecting 
on my own, I deem that alone sufficient excuse for setting forth 
my griefs and theirs, before men of understanding, to whom I 
desire to be supposed addressing myself, and for obtruding upon 
them more of my personal history than anight otherwise be pru- 
dent or becoming. Because I wish to stir up an intelligent and 
active sympathy, in behalf of the most wretched, the most op- 
pressed, the only helpless of mankind, by proving with how much 
needless tyranny they are treated-and this in mockery by men 



4 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

who pretend indeed their cure, but who are, in reality, their tor- 
mentors and destroyers. 

I open my mouth for the dumb; and let it be recollected, that 
I write in defence of youth and old age, of female delicacy, mod- 
esty, and tenderness, not only of man and of manhood surren- 
dered up in weakness to indecent exposure, disgusting outrage, or 
uncalled for violence that I write for the few who are objects of 
suspicion and alarm, to society, who too much engrossed in busi- 
ness or in pleasure to exercise reflection, are equally capable of 
treating these objects of their dread and insolence, with lunatic 
cruelty, and the insanest mismanagement; being deprived, like 
them, of understanding, by exaggerated and unreasonable fear, 
but not like them by illness, of the guilt of their misconduct. The 
subject to which I direct attention, is also one on which, my read- 
ers, according to man's wont, the wisest of you are hasty to decide 
in action, or to hazard an opinion in proportion even to your 
ignorance. 

In the name of humanity, then, in the name of modesty, in 
the name of wisdom, I intreat you to place yourselves in the posi- 
tion of those whose sufferings I describe, before you attempt to 
discuss what course is to be pursued towards them. Feel for them; 
try to defend them. Be their friends, argue not hostilely. Feeling 
the ignorance to be in one sense real, which all of you confess on 
your lips, listen to one who can instruct you. Bring the ears and 
the minds of children, children as you are, or pretend to be, in 
knowledge not believing without questioning, but questioning 
that you may believe. 



CHAPTER II 



I WAS born of parents powerful, honourable, and happy, till a 
cruel blow deprived my mother of a husband, and her family of 
a father. He was a minister of state; and my relations rank among 
the aristocracy and wealth of my country. I was educated in the 
bosom of peace and plenty, in principles of delicacy and decorum, 
in modest and temperate habits, and in the observance of, and real 
veneration for, the religion of my country. 

At the age of seventeen, I left the public school, at which I had 
passed seven years, not without credit, to study with a private 
tutor, and the next year, the inclination I had formed in child- 
hood for a military life still predominating, my family procured 
me a commission in a regiment of cavalry; two troops of that 
regiment being shortly after reduced, I was placed on half-pay, 
and allowed next year to exchange into the Guards. I owed both 
my commissions to the kindness of the Duke of York, and to the 
attention of his secretary, Sir Herbert Taylor, who were glad to 
show their respect for the memory of my father. I had been 
nursed in the lap of ease, and scrupulous morality; I now entered 
the school of polite and gentlemanly behaviour. 

I passed my life in the Guards quiet and unobserved. I had, 
as at school, three or four friends, and no very extensive general 
acquaintance. If I was remarkable in society for any thing, it was 
for occasional absence of mind, and for my gravity and silence 
when the levity of my companions transgressed the bounds of 
decorum, and made light of religion, or offended against moral- 
ity. I was firm also in resisting all attempts to drive me by ridicule 



6 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

into intemperance. In private I had severe conflict of mind upon 
the truth and nature of the Christian religion, accompanied with 
acute agony at my own inconsistency of conduct and sentiment 
with the principles of duty and feeling taught by Jesus and His 
apostles; and mingled with astonishment at the whirlpool of dis- 
sipation, and contradiction in society around me. After several 
years' inward suffering and perplexity, question and examination, 
I found at last, for a time, peace, and joy, and triumph, as I 
imagined, in the doctrines usually styled "evangelical." Till then 
the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, instead of being a message of gladness, 
had always been to me one of increasing woe and shame; as a 
sinner, to whom it made the law more binding, the offences against 
the law more ungrateful the heinousness of crime deeper, in 
proportion to my conception of the boundless love of Almighty 
God. Then I understood that the law was done away in Christ, 
and liberty given to the mind, so that the soul might choose grate- 
fully what it could not be driven to by fear. In the year 1829, m Y 
conduct first became decided and extreme, through the active 
principle instilled by the doctrines I have named; and in the 
spring of the year 1830, influenced chiefly by this new principle 
of action, I obtained permission to sell my commission in the 
Guards. 

Since, however, many reasons combined to determine this reso- 
lution, I will mention them briefly. Not unconscious that they 
may excite the ridicule of many, nor that a few may accuse me 
of vanity in the detail, as well as in what I have already written. 
But my object is, without affecting more candour than is necessary, 
and without pretending to excuse or to blame, to show in my own 
instance the kind of disposition that was exposed to treatment of 
too sad a nature. For in arguing on the treatment of lunatics, 
mankind usually, though confessing ignorance, set out with the 
conceit that ill-treatment (or, to use the well-disguised language 
of the physicians, "wholesome restraint," or "wholesome correc- 
tion") is necessary; and proceed as if this conceit were a principle 
established on evidence, instead of wickedly admitted through the 
very ignorance they avow. Next, in hearing the complaints of 
lunatics, they are prone to the suspicion, that the evil conduct of 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 7 

the complainant brought both his calamity and his persecutions 
upon him; and not that mild and civil, and even childlike, as well 
as childish natures, are submitted to cruel tortures from profane 
hands through the supineness of society in abandoning individu- 
als, without knowledge of the disease or discrimination, into the 
hands of men of little education, and of low origin, implicitly 
relying on their pretensions, yet as men dealing only practically 
with such patients. 



CHAPTER III 



IN the first place, the evangelical opinions I had embraced, 
containing, as I imagined, the light of everlasting truth, given 
me freely through the election of God the Father, for the sake of 
the obedience, and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and to the end that 
His own glory might be made manifest, in changing a vile and 
weak creature into the likeness of Divine holiness, excited in me 
gratitude and fear: gratitude for the gift given me, and for that 
election; and fear of the wrath of God, if I disobeyed the end for 
which it was given. That which had been done for me, I thought 
it my duty to preach to others, and to explain the doctrines, 
whereby I had been saved. Moved by these arguments, I spoke 
and acted in open confession of my faith, a line of conduct not 
very agreeable to the army, even if called for, and judicious. Being 
then in Dublin, I attached myself to a society for reading the Scrip- 
tures to the Irish poor; I attended the regimental schools; I read 
the service to a detachment I commanded, as the men had not seats 
provided for them in church; I tried to establish a reading-room 
for the soldiers of my battalion; I procured religious and other 
books for the sick in hospital, and being afterwards quartered in 
town, hearing that two battalions of guards and the recruits, 
through the neglect of the Chaplain and indifference of the com- 
manding officers, had been for a long time upon one pretence or 
another without opportunity of attending Divine service at all, 
by privately applying to a clergyman in Westminster, and to an 
officer of one battalion of like sentiments to my own, we procured 
seats for the men in a large chapel, belonging to the Church of 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 9 

England. I had obtained the like permission from a clergyman of 
the established church for the other battalion, when I found that 
this conduct excited suspicion and offence. Both Colonel and 
Chaplains showed some symptoms of chagrin they charged me 
with having sent the men to a dissenting minister. My conduct 
in reading the service to the detachment I for a time commanded 
near Dublin, in circulating religious books, and in other respects, 
drew on me also private animadversions, although in no instance 
did I transgress military discipline; in the first case, I acted only 
in obedience to the regulations of the army. Now, though not sure 
that I was doing quite right, I felt inclined to do more; for I 
outfaced slander and cavil thus, that even if I were in the extreme, 
it was but fair that one should be in the extreme in the cause of 
Christ, when so many were running recklessly a course of gaiety 
and dissoluteness. But as I really esteemed my superior officer, 
who was both kind, intelligent, and actively beneficent; and as 
I loved good discipline, I judged it prudent to withdraw from a 
scene of constant conflict with my own conscience, where I was 
tempted to act unwisely, and where I might be led into quarrel 
with those whom I loved and respected, through conduct I might 
afterwards sincerely repent of. 

In the next place, I was led by a passage in the New Testament, 
exhorting the Christian to choose liberty rather than slavery. 
I conceived this advice applicable to a situation like my own, 
where I was so much confined in the liberty of speech and con- 
versation with the private soldier, by the strict discipline of the 
service. After that, I reflected on my natural disposition, talents, 
and acquirements. I was fond of quiet, seclusion, and study; 
unused to boisterous sports, untried in situations requiring promp- 
titude and decision. I had a long time mistrusted my courage, and 
presence of mind, and had feared, that in the hour of trial, I might 
do discredit to the regiment and to my own name. In 1827, in 
Portugal, I had seen a bloodless campaign, excepting the assassi- 
nation of one or two of the men and outrages upon the officers, 
unatoned for. Though the scene was novel and the country beau- 
tiful, my mind was fatigued by the long marches between the 
towns to do nothing. I disliked idleness, accompanied by sus- 



10 PERCEVAL S NARRATIVE 

pense of mind, separation from all means of regular study, and 
the absence of the attractions of female society. One night we had 
encamped, and I came to the resolution that my life might be a 
very romantic one, but that it was far from being agreeable. I was 
cheerful and contented, and glad that we had a fine night, but I 
judged coolly, and with reason, that a better cause than that of 
kings and constitutions, the instruments after all, and the embody- 
ings of the spirit of Satan, was required to justify the sacrifice of 
happiness and comfort to one, who needed not to gain his living 
by cutting his neighbour's throat. I felt too, in the end, that we 
had been made fools and tools of. My tastes, therefore, were little 
suited to a military life, and my talents and acquirements not 
much more. I had already too much religion, to enjoy thought- 
less dissipation, and too much reflection, to be the blind instru- 
ment of power; though I had been a long time in the army, and 
had devoted part of that time to acquire an insight into the prin- 
ciples of the profession, and a knowledge of languages, in hopes 
of being of service to my country; yet my attention had been 
chiefly absorbed by points of evidence and doctrine connected 
with religion, and I found myself at last, better adapted to confute 
a Papist or an infidel, without committing myself, than to ma- 
noeuvre a battalion, or even to direct a company. 

Religion therefore and propriety thus dictating to me, affec- 
tion also had its weight. My youngest brother held a commission 
as captain in a regiment of cavalry, and was endowed with many 
qualities which fit a man to be a soldier. I regretted that I had 
placed myself in his way, and I hoped by removing myself from 
the army, that the interest of my family would be united to further 
his advancement when an opportunity might offer. 

I next took a view of politics. At that time the Duke of Wel- 
lington had just succeeded Mr. Canning, and I had been disgusted 
and exasperated by what I still consider the betrayal of Portugal 
into the hands of Don Miguel, for continental purposes. My last 
attachment to the Tory party, and to the pride of being an Eng- 
lishman, were then severed. I had thought my country upright, 
noble, and generous, and that party honest and honourable. I now 
despised the one, and began to hate and fear the other. Holding 



PERCEVAL S NARRATIVE 11 

his conduct to have been dishonourable in respect of Portugal, 
I was not surprised at the Duke's change of policy in yielding the 
Roman Catholic question to the Irish Papists, but I was alarmed 
by the tone of his government, opposing the desire of the nation 
for reform, after that fatal blow to our Protestant institutions, and 
I conceived it but too possible that he might have the idea of 
putting down the will of the people by the bayonet; and if that 
struggle come, thought I, I should like to be free to choose my side, 
if it be agreeable to the will of God that I should interfere at all. 

I was also strongly persuaded that the time of the end was at 
hand, and that God was about to visit the nations with His plagues, 
His promises having been rejected; and finding in Scripture an 
exhortation to His people to come out in those days from the 
profane, and to flee to the mountains, &c., Sec., I reflected whether 
the words had not a practical, as well as a figurative application, 
and I deemed it right to place myself at liberty to act as I might 
be enlightened. 

So, seeking liberty, I fell into confinement; seeking to serve the 
Almighty, I disgraced His worship and my own name. During the 
period that I was under personal restraint, my brother left the 
army, the Duke of Wellington and his colleagues resigned, and 
were succeeded by a Whig administration; and when the cholera 
visited my country, I was preserved from it. "It came not nigh my 
dwelling." My own mind also had undergone a complete change 
in its views of the Christian faith, principle, and duty, and God 
knows my courage was submitted to severe trial. 



CHAPTER IV 



Now, my readers, come with me to Oxford. I have stated that 
I imagined I had found peace and triumph in the doctrines of 
the evangelical preachers. I add, and it follows of course, joy un- 
utterable and full of glory. At first this was the case. In Dublin, 
where the light of these doctrines first broke in upon me with 
force sufficient to give decision to my conduct I found in society 
individuals of congenial thought; and here my own conduct was 
one series of devotion to supposed religious duties and to religious 
enquiry. I felt endued with a new nature, and with power to over- 
come all those habits, which had most vexed me during my life. 
In boldness of conduct and of speech in activity in diligence, 
and in purity of mind, I conceived I saw the fruits of a new life, 
the evidences of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. My mind and conduct 
were for the first time consistent with each other; but when I 
returned to England, where I stood alone, amongst society, and 
amongst officers, gentlemanly and moderate, but indifferent to 
spiritual truths, and inclined to turn religion or too much re- 
ligion into ridicule, I felt first puzzled, then undecided, then mis- 
trustful of myself, then mistrustful of my call to be a disciple of 
Christ Jesus, I became lukewarm, I became inconsistent I fell 
into sin I expected to have been kept from sin by the Holy Spirit 
that was my idea of salvation that I understood was the gift 
promised to me in the gospel. Now at times, I feared that I was 
a castaway at times, I threw away all fear, in bold, but contrite 
reliance on the pledged word of the Almighty, for on that alone 
I fancied I had relied; therefore when I left the army, I desired 
in my own mind to retire to study at Dublin, which I called my 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 13 

cradle in the Spirit, because there I might unite society with study, 
and be corroborated in practice by the example of the zealous 
churchmen in that city. Religion is not amongst them a matter 
of form and ceremony, it is the motive and end of their life. My 
duty to my mother, however, and my attachment to England, de- 
termined me to choose an English university, and a hope of ac- 
quiring habits of regularity, made me fix on Oxford. I was 
pleased with my choice. The order, the quiet, the cleanliness, the 
beautiful simplicity of character I met with there the majesty, 
the elegance, the antiquity of the buildings, the variety of their 
architecture, their solidity, their preservation, with all the means 
of study, repose, and reflection, enchanted me. I only regretted 
that I had not retired from a military life earlier. I only wanted, 
as I thought, a wife to add to my tranquillity. The evangelical 
doctrines I put faith in having at that time very few preachers in 
the church, I often frequented the Baptist and Independent meet- 
ing-houses, to hear their preachers. Soon after entering Oxford, 
I attended a dissenting chapel. But being warned of the offence 
I might give to the authorities, by continuing such a course, I gave 
it up after my matriculation; and then went to a church where a 
gentleman of the name of Bulteel preached in a vehement manner 
doctrines then almost peculiar to himself, and in the highest 
degree Galvinistic. On setting out for the University, I had been 
greatly oppressed by the fear that I should find no communion 
of spirit with any persons there, of my own condition. By the side 
of an old man's sick bed, to whose room I had been introduced 
by the clergyman of the parish, a friend of one of my brothers, I 
first met with one of the young Galvinists, who formed part of this 
gentleman's congregation; and he introduced me to the society 
of his friends, who were for the most part young men, and became 
my chief acquaintance. I looked upon this then as a signal in- 
stance of the Divine protection and goodness. I can now hardly 
forbear alluding to it with levity, as if the Almighty had said, "if 
he desires it he shall have plenty!' I still feel happy, in that old 
Bradley, (who had put on mourning at my father's death, though 
he knew him not,) a few days before his own death, understood 
that one of my father's sons had attended upon him. 

About the middle of June, news came to Oxford of the ex- 



14 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

traordinary occurrences at Row and at Port Glasgow. One eve- 
ning I had crossed the river from the Christ Church meadows, and 
walking down the bank, through the fields on the opposite side, 
with two or three companions, our conversation turned on that 
subject: one said, if it were not for my books and other property 
in Oxford, I should go to Scotland to make inquiry. I replied, if 
I thought it true, I would sell my books and clothes if they were 
all that I had, to pay for my journey. The tidings were, however, 
so contradictory, that I did not credit the report. 

It may be as well to remark here, that I had for many years 
often fasted, and had lately added to this discipline, watching 
accompanied with prayer. It was my delight to wake in the night 
to pray, according to the example of David~"at midnight also will 
I praise Thee." On two occasions previous to my arrival at Oxford, 
during earnest prayer, I had seen visions, each of which shortly 
after I saw them I found were pictures of what came to pass in 
reality, though with certain variations; which I account for by 
my disobedience to the spirit of the vision. You do not under- 
stand this, niy reader, nor do I. 

I cannot now enter into a detail of these visions nor of my 
experiences under them. Suffice it to say, I was expecting the 
fulfilment of the Divine prophecies, concerning the end of the 
world, or the coming of the Lord, and as I could see no reason but 
want of faith, for the absence from the church of the original gifts 
of the Holy Ghost, so, such experience as I had here had confirmed 
me in my expectation. 



CHAPTER V 



I LEFT Oxford in July, with the intention of proceeding to 
Ireland by Liverpool, on a long promised visit to one of my re- 
lations. Whilst preparing for my departure I met in London at 
my bankers, Mr. H. D., a gentleman who has since received the 
title of Evangelist, from the supposed inspired teachers of the late 
Mr. Irving's congregation. He gave me new information con- 
cerning the extraordinary manifestations at Row, and at Port 
Glasgow; and, at my desire, a letter of introduction to a young 
Scotch minister, who, having been thither, had returned con- 
vinced of the reality of the miracles. My conversations with these 
two gentlemen, determined me to proceed northward to make in- 
quiry, and to take shipping afterwards from the Clyde for Belfast. 

On my way, I visited my younger brother, residing at that time 
with his newly married wife at Sheffield. I passed a day or two with 
a fellow-collegian at Leeds. I passed through the principal manu- 
facturing towns to Manchester, thence to Chester. I proceeded to 
Liverpool, and thence through the lake scenery of Westmoreland 
to Carlisle. Here I bid adieu to England, and arrived in Glasgow 
about September. In Glasgow I procured a few pamphlets then 
current, on the nature of the new miracles, and then descended 
the river, to Greenock, a town below Port Glasgow, from which 
place next morning I crossed over to Row, provided with a letter 
of introduction to Mr. Campbell the minister of Row, and also 
the chief preacher in those parts of the doctrines then denominated 
the "Row Heresy." This amiable, and I hope I may truly add 
godly, man received me kindly, and begged me to abide in his 



16 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

house, so long as I was inclined to make inquiry into the opinions 
of his followers. 

By his means I became acquainted with Mr. Lusk, Mr. Erskine, 
the M'Donalds, Mary Campbell, and many others. From that 
which I heard, read, and saw, I soon became almost a convert 
The effect then may be readily imagined which was produced on 
a highly excited and enthusiastic mind, by the awful thought that 
I was abiding in the presence and company of persons, in all 
probability moved and speaking by the Holy Ghost. One after- 
noon at Row, in the house of a gentleman, where I was at luncheon, 
I was first called out to see one of the inspired ladies, who had left 
the table and desired to speak to me, under the impression that she 
was commanded to address me. She was a plain slender young 
woman, pitted with the small pox. I attended her in the drawing 
room, and when I was alone with her, with her arm raised and 
moving to a kind of serious measure, she addressed me in clear 
and angelic notes, with sounds like these. "Hola mi hastos, Hola 
mi hastos, disca capita crustos bustos" Sec. 8cc. Sec. She then cried 
out "and he led them out to Bethany and said, Tarry ye in Jeru- 
salem until ye are indued with power from on high." 

I have always felt irresistibly inclined to laugh under those 
circumstances which for the sake of prudence and common sense 
required of me the utmost outward show of gravity. So in this 
instance, it was with the greatest difficulty that I could command 
my features. At the conclusion, I asked the meaning of what I had 
heard. I understood that the lady thought she had been ad- 
dressing me by the order of the Holy Spirit, but that she could not 
explain to what her words alluded. "She thought that / was to 
understand," or words to that effect. I could not help being awed; 
the sounds, the tone, the action, were most impressive. I felt that it 
was either an awful truth, or a dreadful and damnable delusion. 
I returned to the table where I sat down in silence. A lady on my 
right-hand side spoke to me a few sentences which I answered, and 
then again I was silent, pondering in my own heart what might be 
the meaning of the words I had heard, if true, and how I was to 
obtain a decided explanation of them. Whether the command to 
"tarry in Jerusalem," referred to my remaining amongst the in- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 17 

spired persons in that neighbourhood, or to a state of peace and 
confidence of mind. Whilst thus reflecting, a new and wonderful 
sensation came upon me: from my head downwards through my 
whole frame, I felt a spirit or a humour shedding its benign influ- 
ence, the effect of which was that of the most cheerful, mild and 
grateful peace and quiet. The words it suggested to me were, 
"Like to the dew of Hermon," &c. &c. I do not remember ever 
having felt such, and with inward joy and pleasure I thought I 
recognized the marvellous work of the Almighty. I now suspect 
that it might have been the effect of excitement on a nervous 
system already undermined. Yet I look back with pleasure and 
satisfaction on my recollection of those hours. A mind so harassed, 
so tortured as mine had been for many years, may well be pardoned 
for being deceived, by so sensible a delusion; by a Pandora bringing 
in her box a medicine so suited apparently to my complaint, and 
so delightful. If a doubt suggested itself, I might naturally reply 
in the spirit of Camoens, "Ainda eu imagine, em ser contentoT* 
Am I yet only imagining when I am happy? 

After the party at that house had broken up and we were walk- 
ing into Row, the lady who had addressed me, joined me, and 
begged that I would not take any thing that she had said to me, to 
bind me to remain there or in any one particular place. She was 
anxious lest I might be misled, and acknowledged that she did not 
understand the purport of the message. I then asked her if she was 
sure that she had faithfully discharged her mission, and had not 
withheld any part of the communication she had been inspired to 
make to me; for in her manner to me, there had appeared a want 
of freedom of action, as if the mind misgave itself concerning its 
illuminations, not daring to do or to say all it was prompted to. 
She was not aware that she had concealed any thing. I think it 
was this afternoon that we proceeded to the beach to wait for a 
steam packet, in which the ladies and Mr. Erskine were to pass 
over to Port Glasgow. No steam packet came, owing either to foul 
weather, or to a change in the regulations. It was then raining, 
and on finding the ladies exposed to the weather, I suggested the 
propriety of taking shelter, but I found a pause I could not account 
for, until it was explained to me, that, Mr. Erskine, one of their 



i8 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

leaders had an impression that a steam boat would come. I was 
therefore obliged to leave the party, who were leaning upon this 
strange persuasion, to such protection as their umbrellas afforded 
them; I could not withstand the ridicule excited in my mind by an 
elderly gentleman thus misleading his flock; for I was convinced 
that he was mistaken in this instance at least, though I had little 
question of the doctrines he supported being true. I need not add 
that they were disappointed. 

After this day, I attended the meeting of the followers of the 
church at Port Glasgow. Here I heard again a manifestation of 
tongues, and the scriptures read with an utterance preternatural, 
and requiring great assurance to practise, because so extraordinary. 
I never attended these meetings without great conflict of mind, 
and afterwards depression. I had an anxiety working in me, and a 
bond pressing down heavy on me. I knew not what I was to do; 
my mind was in the dark, yet I wanted to be taking an active part. 
The sounds I heard were at times beautiful in the extreme, resem- 
bling the Greek language; at times they were awfully sublime 
and grand, and gave me a full perception of that idea; "the Word 
was with GOD, and the WORD was GOD:" at times the tone of them 
querulous and almost ridiculous. 

One evening, after having attended one of these meetings, I 
retired to the inn at Port Glasgow, and feeling not disposed to go 
so early to bed, I went into the travellers' room, and ordered a 
glass of whiskey. I was soon after joined by a Scotch gentleman, 
who also ordered some whiskey, with which, from his appearance, 
he was far better acquainted than myself. This kind of frolicsome 
squire or laird I shrank from, having a most hearty dislike to riot 
and extravagance. The more, however, my nature shrank from 
him, the more need I imagined he had of Christian charity and 
instruction. We fell into conversation, and I was very much af- 
flicted, when we descanted on religious subjects, and on the re- 
ported miracles in the neighbourhood, at the broken-hearted 
manner in which my companion confessed and complained of his 
own weakness, and declared for himself he was unable to be a 
Christian as for himself, he was sure that he had no kindred with 
Christ. During my conversation, I was dwelling intently upon 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 19 

the means most likely to quicken him to a sense of shame and 
hope; and looking, though despondingly, to be guided by the 
Holy Spirit in my argument. I suffered a deep internal struggle 
I seemed guided to I knew not what: at last, I flung myself back, 
as it were, in the arms of the Lord; and opening my mouth, I sang 
without premeditation, in beautiful tones, that affected my mind 
greatly, and in measure like to an anthem, "kindred with Christ! 
bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh!" The manner was that of 
expostulation for want of faith, of encouragement and consola- 
tion. I sang a few more sentences in the same apparently inspired 
manner, but without premeditation; I forget them, but I recollect 
after a short but animated conversation, the gentleman, greatly 
touched and awed into compunction, rose up and kissed me, de- 
claring that he trusted there were still hopes for him; and he left 
me, promising to attend one of the meetings next day. 

I could mention several instances of the same kind, when the 
power of the Spirit came upon me, and, opening my mouth, sang 
in beautiful tones words of purity, kindness, and consolation. I 
was subdued and humbled; it was not my doing the words, the 
ideas even, were wholly unthought of by me, or at least I was un- 
conscious of thinking of them 

Et, quoniam Deus ora movet, sequar ora moventem 
Rite Deum 

Ovid's description of the inspiration of Pythagoras tallied with 
my experience. This voice was given me, but I was not the master 
of it; I was but the instrument. I could not use it at my own com- 
mand, but solely at the command of the Spirit that guided me. 
On another occasion, I was going to call for the first time on Mary 
Campbell, had crossed the ferry over the lake, and was proceeding 
along the shore on the opposite side, when I passed a party of 
ladies with one gentleman. I felt impelled in the Spirit to give a 
message to them. I shrank from doing so, conceiving it to be a 
delusion, but again fearing that I was grieving the Spirit, and 
proving ungrateful through my timidity before man, I summoned 
resolution, and addressed a few words of scripture to the lady and 
gentleman in front of the party when they came up. The lady, 



20 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

with great delicacy and command, questioned me as to what I 
meant, without showing offence or confusion. I replied that I did 
not know to what the words alluded, but that I believed I had 
been desired to utter them. I never could tell why. I afterwards 
conversed with the lady, who was acquainted with my eldest 
brother's wife's family. I learned that the gentleman walking with 
her was apparently reforming, from having been of an unthinking 
and wild character; and, soon after, I was told that one of the young 
ladies behind recognised me, having sailed across the Clyde in the 
same steam-boat with myself; on that day we had conversed to- 
gether on the subject of the manifestations at Port Glasgow and 
Row. I had argued with her on the possibility and apparent prob- 
ability of them, and she had expressed her desire to know the re- 
sult of my inquiries. I was then able to tell her, that I not only 
believed in the reality of the miracles, but that I imagined I had 
myself been a subject of them. 

At morning service in Mr. Campbell's church, one Sunday, I 
was led to open my mouth, and sing a part of a psalm, at a time 
when the rest of the congregation were at peace, and whilst Mr. 
Campbell was preparing to preach. / mistrusted the guidance, 1 
knew not what then to do; but after inward conflict, whilst Mr. 
Campbell was actually preaching, I gained confidence to chant 
two verses of another psalm. I was immediately below, and behind, 
the pulpit. Mr. Campbell descended from it to dissuade me, and 
begged me not to continue. I told him quietly, "I had done." The 
power had left me. I knew not whether I had done right or wrong; 
I only knew the power was not mine, and from its nature, as evi- 
denced to my own feelings, I concluded it divine: afterwards, in a 
conversation with Mary Campbell, I understood that which is 
written by St. Paul, that we are not to speak all together, but to 
command the spirits; for that God is not a God of confusion, but 
of order. 

Afterwards I assisted Mr. Campbell to write out his apology, 
and attended him to Dumbarton, where he was condemned by a 
set of crabbed old Presbyterians calling themselves a synod, pre- 
sided over by a person called "Moderator," a stout, mild, rosy- 
faced man, the only gentleman amongst them. Whilst waiting 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 21 

for their arrival, and for the opening of the church doors, I walked 
amongst the graves with Macdonald, one of two brothers who had 
originated these doctrines, and whose sister had been raised mirac- 
ulously from a bed of sickness. He told me that since he had been 
converted, he had lived as in anew life moved by a life that dwelt 
in him. The same young man, or his brother, whilst the mock 
trial was going on, rushed out of the church, crying out words with 
a loud voice to this effect, "Come out of her, come out of her, my 
people." I do not recollect the exact speech; he was red in the 
face. My impression at the time was that he was misled, not in 
faith, but in so giving utterance to it. 



CHAPTER VI 



I WILL not now dwell any more upon these particulars: suffice it 
to say, I left the manse at Row, in my own imagination, a living 
instance of the Holy Ghost operating in man, full of courage, 
confidence, peace, and rapture, like a glowing flame, but still and 
submissive. Such, I say, was the state of my feeling in the life of 
that Spirit; but in the flesh I was anxious, lest I should be betrayed 
into error by a false zeal, or by false directions, so as to turn that 
power to ridicule, by attempting miracles, uncommanded, or by 
conduct out of order; at the same time, I was alarmed, lest, mistak- 
ing a fear of man for a love of order, I might quench the Holy 
Spirit working within me. I knew it was in my power to refuse to 
obey the Spirit's guidance, but not to command its utterance. At 
the same time, I knew the power of utterance was often upon me, 
when I considered it out of season and place to make use of it. 
This disturbed me, because others had told me, they could not 
resist the power, when it came upon them! Mr. Campbell, at my 
departure seemed to fear for me, that I might be misled, and ex- 
pressed his anxiety; I was conscious of danger and difficulty, but I 
hoped what had been begun without me, would be perfected in 
me, despite even of myself. 

I recollect one night at Mr. Campbell's, whilst reading the 
Scriptures, I was directed to read, or to expound to him, certain 
passages, which I declined doing, as out of place and presumptu- 
ous. He went out of the room, and the Spirit then guided me to 
several chapters and verses, containing warnings, reproof, and 
menaces; particularly to the first chapter of Jeremiah, verse 17. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 23 

"Be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them;" 
where the Prophet is threatened -with confusion if he is dis- 
obedient. These threats were applied to me, I was alarmed, and 
when Mr. Campbell re-entered, I acknowledged the inward work- 
ing of the Spirit, and stated to him my opinions concerning the 
"identity of the church with the Lord" which I had been afraid 
to mention before, lest I might be charged with enthusiasm. At 
Dublin again, after a conflict of a similiar nature, when I had left a 
gentleman's house to go I knew not whither, I was made to open 
the Old Testament, and in the books of the law, the twenty-eighth 
chapter of Deuteronomy was pointed out to me to read, contain- 
ing the curses, that I should be cursed in my family, in going out 
and coming in, &c, "and the Lord shall smite thee with madness 
and blindness and astonishment of heart." The passages were ap- 
plied to me, and I was shocked, and yet I could not see how it 
could be true, seeing the Lord had promised to keep me, as well as 
to save me and convert me. 

Before I quitted Row, however, I had suspected that a new 
power had been conferred on me, of discerning the spirits that 
spoke in men around me, by their tone, and the effect of the utter- 
ance upon my nervous organs. This was a new field of observation 
to me when I left Scotland, and I considered it might be, if not a 
delusion, a beneficial guard against any spiritual enemy; but when 
I came to Ireland, in addition to the power of discerning evil in 
others, I fancied that I had the power to discern evil in myself, 
and to know by the sensation on my palate, throat, and hearing, 
whether I was speaking in accordance with the will of God, or 
against his will, and consequently against the laws of nature. I 
now attribute this sensation in a great measure to extreme nervous 
excitement, but at that time it led to the destruction of my new 
formed peace, and ultimately to my ruin. For I was conscious that 
I spoke often with bodily pain, in reply to trivial or religious 
questions, and at the same time I could not but answer or hold my 
tongue. If I held my tongue, I was embarrassed, and I caused pain 
and displeasure and suspicion to others, which I could not believe 
consistent with Christian charity. Yet I must either hold my 
tongue, or speak as I was guided, or speak my own thoughts; and 



24 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

when no guidance came, I would, at times, stumble upon broken 
sentences, stammer, and prove ridiculous, opening my mouth to 
obey a guidance which failed me before I finished a sentence, at 
times even before I commenced. Still less could I think it my duty 
to make my mission ridiculous: yet in speaking my own thoughts 
as I then termed them, I groaned in spirit and grieved, suffering 
actually bodily pain, and fearing that I was guilty of, and accusing 
myself of, the grossest ingratitude in rebelling even against the 
law of nature, and not only against the Holy Spirit, to whom I 
was indebted for such great mercies, and miraculous graces. This 
trouble of mind increased upon me towards the end of November, 
and the commencement of December, and was the most active 
inward cause of all my misfortunes. 

I landed at Belfast, where I halted for the Sunday, and then 
proceeded to Dublin, bearing witness on my way to what I had 
witnessed in Scotland: on the road I recollect I lost a Hebrew 
Bible, I met, as I had expected and desired, in Dublin, a gentle- 
man who had offered me a curacy in Somersetshire. To him I 
related my convictions, prepared to meet with a withdrawal of 
his offer in consequence, which however did not follow. My kind 
friend appeared willing to look upon my enthusiasm with in- 
dulgence, and to leave it with the bishop, whom he invited me to 
meet near Bristol, to decide if it was too strong to allow of ordina- 
tion into the church. I was, however, otherwise guided, and, after 
passing a few days in Dublin, I proceeded to fulfil an engagement 
in Queen's County, and from thence journeyed beyond Limerick 
to visit a schoolfellow, a zealous clergyman acting as curate in a 
small Irish town. On my way there, I spent a night or two at the 
house of a protestant clergyman near Roscrea, to whom I had a 
letter of introduction; he was an enthusiast of the evangelical 
school; he begged me to accompany him next day to a meeting at 
Nenagh, at which he begged me to assist. I assented with some 
difficulty, because I had not yet had any distinct calling or com- 
mand to appear publicly. Although I often desired to have a 
way opened for me, yet I feared to be trespassing on paths not 
prepared for me by the Lord; for all the guidance I had hitherto 
received, after my conversation with Mary Campbell, tended to 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 25 

the strictest order and obedience to the ordinances o the church. 
I did however accept the invitation to speak conditionally; an 
express condition was, that I should confine myself to general 
subjects, and not be supposed to give an unqualified support to a 
society not acting in strict union with and subordination to the 
established church. I went to the meeting completely unprepared. 
I decided when there, what line of argument to adopt, in con- 
formity with the will of my singular inspiration, and being at a 
loss to know how to support my argument with texts, and doubt- 
ing the will or mistrusting the power of the Spirit, to speak 
through me uninterruptedly, I applied inwardly for guidance; 
and the Spirit, moving my arms and fingers, opened for me my 
Bible in distinct places, one after the other, supplying me in each 
place with a passage in regular connexion with my line of argu- 
ment. According to these I spoke. 

I mention these facts, to show the reasonableness, if I may so 
call it, of my lunacy, if it was entirely lunacy; to speak more 
clearly, to show the reality of the existence of that power, by the 
abuse or use of which, I became insane. If by the abuse of it, be- 
cause the Lord confounded me for my disobedience; if by the use 
of it, because, though real, it was a spirit of delusion. 

After paying another visit, near Limerick, I returned to Dublin 
about the third week in November, I there met with two in- 
dividuals who had been at Row, and I was tempted to protract 
my stay until they returned to Scotland. My mind was no longer 
quiet. Incapable of speaking even on trivial subjects, without 
internal rebuke and misgiving, accompanied with real nervous 
pain, uncertain what was the origin of this, or the end pointed to, 
I felt inclined often to give up all care in religion, exhausted, 
weary, and broken hearted. One Friday evening whilst returning 
from a family dinner, after which I had been arguing with a 
friend, under my usual sense of perplexity and inward struggle, as 
I passed round by the college towards the bridge, I was assailed 
by a woman of the town, as is their custom, to whom I spoke, with 
a heavy heart, in the language of Scripture warning her of her 
danger. She left me, and five minutes after that, another coming 
alongside of me, led me away to my destruction. My confinement, 



s6 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

my sense of shame, of ingratitude, of remorse, my continual ac- 
cusation of myself, that I did not feel the extent of my crime, of 
my guilt in bringing disrepute on doctrines I was persuaded came 
from the Holy Spirit, the abiding presence of this guiding power 
influencing my actions, and awing my mind, added to the subtle 
effects of mercury upon the humours of my body, during the use 
of which I had the imprudence to expose my frame to draughts, 
whilst washing for a long time, every morning, my whole person 
in cold water, at that inclement season of the year; these causes 
all combined, could hardly fail to effect the ruin of my mind; but 
they were joined with others which I will mention in order in 
the next chapter. 

My reader, I have had great difficulty to get even thus far, but, 
if after this you meet with more irregularity and abruptness of 
style, and change of manner, recollect how painful a task I am 
engaged in, and pass it over. 



CHAPTER VII 



I WAS intimately acquainted with the family of an officer re- 
siding in Dublin, of moderate and religious principles. He had 
constantly called on me during my illness, and when I became 
convalescent he invited me to pass the Sunday with him, having 
observed how my imagination was preying upon my mind, and 
fearing for me, for I had related to him the strange guidances and 
sensations to which I was become familiar, hoping that a cheerful 
evening with my old friends might be of advantage to me; and I 
accepted the invitation. It was about the igth of December. Un- 
fortunately I would have it that I was to speak in an unknown 
tongue, and to do other marvellous feats before this family, in 
order to convince them of the truth of the Row doctrines, pre- 
paratory to my departure for England, which I was wild enough 
to fix for the end of the week. For I conceived that my speedy 
restoration from the illness which had recently afflicted me, was 
the effect of a miraculous blessing on the means made use of, and 
a great mercy; and now I was well, I imagined it was a trial of my 
faith, and so it was, whether I should still submit to the regimen 
and prescriptions of my physician, or, by kicking the stool on 
which I had been standing from under my feet, show the power 
that had healed me, and at the same time my faith in that power. 
I say this was indeed a trial of my faith, in two senses, for it was 
a trial of the strength of my delusion, and of my reasonable under- 
standing: of my real faith, which I then called human fear; and 
of my false faith, which I then called trust in God. It is con- 
temptible and ridiculous, but when night came and I had to de- 



28 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

cide, I split the difference by taking half the dose that my physician 
had ordered me. The truth is, that I doubted my delusions, and 
I doubted my physician. Had my mind been clear, I might have 
been acting wisely, and with peace of mind; but my mind being 
confused, this trifling incident added to my confusion, and, my 
conscience being doubtful, to my imagined guilt. All this con- 
tributed to my disturbance that wretched night. 

I say that I imagined I was to speak in an unknown tongue, 
and perform other signs before my worthy friend's household. 
And this, though a delusion, is but a delusion of this world, where 
the worthless are putting themselves forward continually as God's 
truest servants: the most ignorant are the most presumptuous. 
This delusion, however, counterbalanced all the beneficial effects 
of their society, for I was in a state of great excitement, both at my 
own feelings, that urged and led me to attempt utterances and 
singing, &c. 8cc., and at their alarm and opposition. It is said in 
Scripture that the disciples should do wonders, and amongst other 
wonders, more harmless, it came into my head, I am told, to put 
my hand into the fire, persuaded that I might draw it out unhurt. 
I was either dissuaded or prevented from doing this. During the 
evening I discovered I had not brought my pocket-handkerchief. 

My friend Captain sent for one of his, it was of red silk; the 

impression came on my mind that it was a token of ill to me, and 

I exclaimed what have you given me? you have given me 

blood. Conversation was going on and my words were hushed 
over, but I foreboded a calamity which though inevitable I could 
not distinctly foresee. 

On retiring to sleep, I promised my host not to cry out in 
prayer or in hymn; that I might not disturb any of the old pen- 
sioners in the Kilmainham hospital, in a room of which my bed 
was prepared. 

In the night I awoke under the most dreadful impressions; I 
heard a voice addressing me, and I was made to imagine that my 
disobedience to the faith, in taking the medicine overnight, had 
not only offended the Lord, but had rendered the work of my 
salvation extremely difficult, by its effect upon my spirits and 
humours. I heard that I could only be saved now by being 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 29 

changed into a spiritual body; and that a great fight would take 
place in my mortal body between Satan and Jesus; the result of 
which would either be my perfection in a spiritual body, or my 
awaking in hell. I am not sure whether before or after this, I was 
not commanded to cry out aloud, for consenting to which I was 
immediately rebuked, as unmindful of the promise I had made to 
my friend. A spirit came upon me and prepared to guide me in 
my actions. I was lying on my back, and the spirit seemed to light 
on my pillow by my right ear, and to command my body. I was 
placed in a fatiguing attitude, resting on my feet, my knees drawn 
up and on my head, and made to swing my body from side to side 
without ceasing. In the meantime, I heard voices without and 
within me, and sounds as of the clanking of iron, and the breath- 
ing of great forge bellows, and the force of flames. I understood 
that I was only saved by the mercy of Jesus, from seeing, as well 
as hearing, hell around me; and that if I were not obedient to His 
spirit, I should inevitably awake in hell before the morning. After 
some time I had a little rest, and then, actuated by the same spirit, 
I took a like position on the floor, where I remained, until I under- 
stood that the work of the Lord was perfected, and that now my 
salvation was secured; at the same time the guidance of the spirit 
left me, and I became in doubt what next I was to do. I under- 
stood that this provoked the Lord, as if I was affecting ignorance 
when I knew what I was to do, and, after some hesitation, I heard 
the command, to "take your position on the floor again then" but 
I had no guidance or no perfect guidance to do so, and could not 
resume it. I was told, however, that my salvation depended upon 
my maintaining that position as well as I could until the morning; 
and oh! great was my joy when I perceived the first brightness of 
the dawn, which I could scarcely believe had arrived so early. I 
then retired to bed. I had imagined during the night that the fire 
of hell was consuming my mortal body that the Spirit of Jesus 
came down to me to endure the pain thereof for me, that he might 
perfect in me a spiritual body to His honour and glory. I imagined 
that the end of this work was, that I was already in the state of one 
raised from the dead; and that any sin or disobedience in this body 
was doubly horrible and loathsome, inasmuch as it was in a body 



30 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

actually regenerated and clothed upon with the Holy Ghost. I 
imagined also that the Holy Ghost had in a special manner de- 
scended, and worked with Jesus to save me. I considered it a proof 
of the truth of my imaginations, when on rising, being perplexed 
by two different guidings that came upon me, I looked down upon 
my limbs which were white and of a natural colour; and again I 
looked down on my limbs, when one half of my frame appeared in 
a state of scarlet inflammation. When I went to dress, this had 
again subsided. 

Before I rose from my bed, I understood that I was now to 
proceed through the world as an angel, under the immediate 
guidance of the Lord, to proclaim the tidings of his second com- 
ing. With that came an uncertain impression that I was to do 
this in an extraordinary way, and by singing and this idea 
haunted me throughout my changes of insanity. I had also an 
uncertain impression of a like nature, that I was to go and show 
myself before the lord lieutenant or the General of the Forces, that 
I was to breakfast there, and to meet, either at the lord lieu- 
tenant's, a prince of the blood royal; or at the General's, a duke, 
to whom I was to proclaim the near coming of the Lord. 

My guidance not being sure, and my folly or my faith not 
being firm enough, I reflected on Mary Campbell's advice, and 
determined to be guided by what appeared the natural path of 
duty. And, at the risk of offending the Holy Spirit and the Lord, 
to prefer showing my gratitude to Captain H. who had shown me 
so many kind attentions, and to attend his humble table. I now 
conceived again that I was to speak to them in an unknown 
tongue, and to make confessions, and to show signs and wonders: 
my words and ideas were to be supplied to me. I did not, how- 
ever, dare to attempt any thing, for I felt no guidance, and I 
shrank from the ridicule of beginning to speak, and having noth- 
ing to say. My whole conduct became confused, my language 
ambiguous and doubtful. After breakfast, I prayed to be left 
alone, which was accorded with some difficulty. When alone 
in the breakfast room, I expected to be guided to prayer; but a 
spirit guided me and placed me on a chair, in a constrained po- 
sition, with my head turned to look at the clock, the hand of which 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 31 

I saw proceeding to the first quarter; I understood I was to leave 
the position when it came to the quarter; when, however, it came 
to the quarter, I was anxious to be on the safe side, and I waited 
till it was at least half a minute past. Having done this, I was not 
a whit the wiser; but on the contrary, I felt that I had again of- 
fended by my want of exact punctuality, proving my want of con- 
fidence. I was then directed to lie on the floor, with my face to the 
ground, in an attitude of supplication and humiliation. I heard 
a spirit pray in me, and reason in me, and with me, and ultimately, 
another spirit, desiring certain gifts of the Holy Spirit to be given 
me, amongst which prophecy, tongues, miracles, and discernment 
of spirits; soon after, I was overwhelmed with a sudden and 
mighty conviction of my utter worthlessness; and being asked 
how I could expect the Lord to take me, and on what conditions I 
craved his favour; another spirit cried out in me, and for me, 
"Lord! take me as I am." 



CHAPTER VIII 



AT that moment Captain H. entered, and I arose. His family 
came into the room, and I again began to be troubled with the 
idea that I was to make confessions to them, and to speak in an 
unknown tongue. I had not understanding to do either, and my 
conduct became very unintelligible. Capt. H. sat down to write 
a letter, and I attempted to make a sketch partly from memory, 
and partly by the guidance of the power that moved my hands, 
of my mother's residence. Captain H. after finishing his letter, 
sent for a hackney coach in which I proceeded with him to Dublin. 
On my way, I was tormented by the commands of what I imagined 
was the Holy Spirit, to say other things, which as often as I at- 
tempted, I was fearfully rebuked for beginning in my own voice, 
and not in a voice given to me. These contradictory commands 
were the cause, now, as before, of the incoherency of my behaviour, 
and these imaginations formed the chief causes of my ultimate 
total derangement. For I was commanded to speak, on pain of 
dreadful torments, of provoking the wrath of the Holy Spirit, and 
of incurring the guilt of the grossest ingratitude; and at the same 
moment, whenever I attempted to speak, I was harshly and con- 
tumeliously rebuked for not using the utterance of a spirit sent to 
me; and when again I attempted, I still went wrong, and when I 
pleaded internally that I knew not what I was to do, I was accused 
of falsehood and deceit; and of being really unwilling to do what 
I was commanded. I then lost patience, and proceeded to say what 
I was desired pell-mell, determined to show that it was not fear or 
want of will that prevented me. But when I did this, I felt as 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 33 

formerly the pain in the nerves of my palate and throat on speak- 
ing, which convinced me that I was not only rebelling against God, 
but against nature; and I relapsed into an agonizing sense of hope- 
lessness and of ingratitude. 

We arrived at my hotel, when Captain left me to bring in 

my physician, Dr. P. [Piel]. I threw myself at the feet of my bed, 
endeavouring to pray. I think my physician came and again I was 
left alone, when, after much meditation, I prepared to go out to 
order a hat, and to arrange for my return to England in one of the 
Howth packets. But, when I opened the door, I found a stout 
man servant on the landing, who told me that he was placed there 
to forbid my going out, by the orders of Dr. P. and my friend; on 
my remonstrating, he followed me into my room and stood before 
the door. I insisted on going out; he, on preventing me. I warned 
him of the danger he incurred in opposing the will of the Holy 
Spirit, I prayed him to let me pass, or otherwise an evil would bef al 
him, for that I was a prophet of the Lord. He was not a whit 
shaken by my address, so, after again and again adjuring him, by 
the desire of the Spirit whose word I heard, I seized one of his 
arms, desiring it to wither: my words were idle, no effect followed, 
and I was ashamed and astonished. 

Then, thought I, I have been made a fool of I But I did not on 
that account mistrust the doctrines by which I had been exposed 
to this error. The doctrines, thought I, are true; but I am mocked 
at by the Almighty for my disobedience to them, and at the same 
time, I have the guilt and the grief, of bringing discredit upon the 
truth, by my obedience to a spirit of mockery, or, by my disobedi- 
ence to the Holy Spirit; for there were not wanting voices to sug- 
gest to me, that the reason why the miracle had failed, was, that I 
had not waited for the Spirit to guide my action when the word 
was spoken, and that I had seized the man's arm with the wrong 
hand. I was silent and astonished. Bed time came. I requested 
the man to leave me for half an hour for prayer; he did so. Before 
that, I think Captain H. had been to me, and had explained the 
reason of his being there. I went to bed, but not to sleep. 

In the same manner as I have already related, voices came to 
desire me to say and attempt many things, which, at one time, I 



34 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

was to utter in the spirit of holiness; at another, in my own spirit, 
at another time, in another spirit; which, as surely as they were 
enjoined, I as surely appeared to misplace, and as surely received 
the most cutting and insulting reproaches for failing in. At one 
time, I was to sing, at another, to pray; at another, to address my 
attendant; at another, to ask him to come to my bed, which my 
sense of decorum refused; at another, to desire him to make a bed 
for himself on the sofa, which I counselled him to do, and which 
I think he declined; at last, in one of these mental conflicts, hunted 
in every direction, my patience gave way and I mentally cursed 
the Holy Trinity. A cutting sense of my ingratitude, and deep 
grief, followed, with mute despair. 

The voices informed me, that my conduct was owing to a spirit 
of mockery and blasphemy having possession of me. That as I 
was already the object of the special grace of the Holy Spirit, which 
had undertaken my salvation, by rendering me a spiritual body, 
after I had forfeited my hope in Jesus Christ, there was no longer 
hope for me in the ordinary means of faith and prayer; but, that I 
must, in the power of the Holy Spirit, redeem myself , and rid my- 
self of the spirits of blasphemy and mockery that had taken pos- 
session of me. 

The way in which I was tempted to do this was by throwing 
myself on the top of my head backwards, and so resting on the 
top of my head and on my feet alone, to turn from one side to the 
other until I had broken my neck. I suppose by this time I was 
already in a state of feverish delirium, but my good sense and pru- 
dence still refused to undertake this strange action. I was then 
accused of faithlessness and cowardice, of fearing man more than 
God. 

And so it was, that the means taken for my care, by my friend 
and the doctor, became my destruction, owing to the peculiar 
weaknesses of my understanding. I was made to doubt my own 
sincerity, and to desire to prove it in spite of the presence of the 
domestic. Had he not been there, I might by that time have been 
sound asleep. 

I attempted the command, the servant prevented me. I lay 
down contented to have proved myself willing to obey in spite of 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 35 

his presence, but now I was accused of not daring to wrestle with 
him unto blows. I again attempted what I was enjoined. The 
man seized me, I tore myself from him, telling him it was necessary 
for my salvation; he left me and went down stairs. I then tried to 
perform what I had begun; but now I found, either that I could 
not so jerk myself round on my head, or that my fear of breaking 
my neck was really too strong for my faith. In that case I then 
certainly mocked, for my efforts were not sincere. 

When I undertook this action, I imagined that if I performed 
it in the power of the Holy Spirit, no harm would result to me, 
but that if I threw myself round to the right in my own strength, 
I might break my neck and die, but that I should be raised again 
immediately to fulfil my mission. I had therefore no design to 
destroy myself; but, I have often conjectured since, that GOD in 
his mercy may have meditated my self-destruction to save me from 
the horrors he foresaw preparing for me: they were great and in- 
tolerable, shocking in themselves, more shocking in my abandon- 
ment; I awoke from them as from the grave, to be cut off from 
all my tenderest ties. 

Failing in my attempts, I was directed to expectorate violently, 
in order to get rid of my two formidable enemies; and then again 
I was told to drink water, and that the Almighty was satisfied; but 
that if I was not satisfied (neither could I be sincerely, for I knew 
I had not fulfilled his commands), I was to take up my position 
again; I did so; my attendant came up with an assistant and they 
forced me into a straight waistcoat. Even then I again tried to 
resume the position to which I was again challenged. They then 
tied my legs to the bed-posts, and so secured me. 

Let me remark, how I became the victim of so absurd a de- 
lusion, yet having so much sense and reflection left to me. The 
spirits which at first spoke in my hearing, or addressed me at Row 
and Port Glasgow, and afterwards spoke in me and moved me; 
which subsequently in Ireland I heard talking to me, and com- 
muning with me invisible; had an utterance so pure, so touching, 
so beautiful, that I could not but believe them divine. They spake 
also in accordance with the word of life; they directed me in paths 
of peace, obedience, and humility; they flattered me even in my 



36 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

desire to adhere to the church establishment, and not to break the 
visible unity of the church; they came upon me to teach me method 
and order; they guided my hand to write in letters unusual to me; 
in so many ways they were attested, as spirits of good and of wis- 
dom, that, now even, I dare not deny the possibility of disobedi- 
ence to them, not my obedience, having caused me to be confound- 
ed, which was forewarned me in Scotland. But when I had thrown 
myself away, and I was thrown away, I was decoyed and separated 
from Jesus, the rock of a Christian's salvation, by my reliance on 
these sounds. For, as it is written, the word of the Lord came to the 
prophets, to Isaiah, &c. &c. When the voice came to me, I received 
that voice as the word of the Lord; and the rather, because, when 
I first heard it, it was like that Elijah describes, "a still small 
voice," and the directions of that voice were like the rest of my 
experiences at first, which were to my apparent good, and for my 
instruction. Now, afterwards that voice weaned me from my re- 
liance upon the blood of Jesus even through my hope in the 
mercies of Jesus, telling me that I could no longer be saved by the 
ordained means of faith, hope, and charity; but by the special 
interference of the Holy Ghost, and fellow-working of Jesus in me, 
to transform my body; this I admitted, though I could not under- 
stand it, on the authority of the spirits communing with me, the 
rather because it showed forth the mercies of Jesus the more ex- 
traordinarily. Thus having been once decoyed from looking up to 
the cross of Jesus as my only hope of salvation, it became compara- 
tively easy for the same power, by the same means, to suggest to 
me a new necessity for an unusual act on my part to save me, when 
I had forfeited my new state of grace. For at that time I was, in all 
probability, already in a state of feverish delirium. 

However, I did not give yet entire credit to these voices, or at 
least, I still exercised in certain respects my judgment and sus- 
picion upon them, recollecting the example and warning of Mary 
Campbell. Particularly, finding the tones vary, I asked which is 
the voice of God? but my suspicions were soon lulled again, and 
my objections in part put down, by the suggestion that I heard 
the voices of the three members of the Holy Trinity, and after- 
wards those of the spirits of God sent to me to command me in 
His name. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 37 

I perished from an habitual error of mind, common to many 
believers, and particularly to our brethren the Roman Catholics, 
that of fearing to doubt, and of taking the guilt of doubt upon my 
conscience; the consequence of this is, want of candour and of real 
sincerity; because we force ourselves to say we believe what we do 
not believe, because we think doubt sinful. Whereas we cannot 
control our doubts, which can only be corrected by information. 
To reject persuasion wilfully is one crime; but to declare wilfully 
that we believe what we doubt, or presumptuously that our doubts 
are wilful, is another. 



CHAPTER IX 



THE next day, or the day after, Dr. P. [Piel] entered my room 
with another doctor. When they came to my bed-side, I was silent. 
I was unable to explain myself to them, because I knew that Dr. P. 
was reputed to be an Unitarian, and therefore I conceived it im- 
possible to make him credit the supernatural voices and agency 
under which I acted. His companion seemed so stupid, and so 
like a man of the world of a common and vague stamp of mind, 
that I thought it perhaps still more hopeless to address him. 

They remained about five or ten minutes on the left-hand side 
of my bed, and then went away. I have since learned that this wise 
second to Dr. P. was a lunatic doctor, celebrated in Dublin. And 
to that, in part, I cannot help attributing my subsequent misfor- 
tunes. I imagine that had Dr. P. acted on his own sound judgment, 
he would never have allowed me, however extraordinary my com- 
plaint might appear, to be subjected to the equally extraordinary 
treatment of confinement to my bed, in nearly one position for 
several days together, tied hand and foot in a straight waistcoat, 
in a small and close room. He would have said, whatever harm 
may be in him, or may arrive to him from his complaint, it cannot 
be greater than what will certainly happen, if he be confined so. 
But having submitted me to the treatment of a lunatic doctor, he 
submitted his own judgment along with it; through that infatua- 
tion by which so many are duped to allow these men to deal with 
patients contrary to nature, law, and reason, purely because they 
profess to undertake practically the care of men devoid of reason; 
affecting, at the same time, that the complaint itself is wholly 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 39 

wrapped up in unfathomable mystery. I imagine, had I been 
treated according to nature, if under this treatment I was restored, 
through much danger, to a state fit for hazarding a journey, about 
the middle of January, I might then have been recovered in less 
time, with less suffering, and more perfectly, from the state of 
derangement which my excitement of mind, acting on a disordered 
system, had brought on only for a time. But fate ordered other- 
wise. I was confined in the manner above detailed; the reason of 
this was the fear of violence to myself. My need of wholesome 
exercise and occupation was denied. My idleness of mind and 
body left me at the mercy of my delusions; my confined position 
increased or caused a state of fever, which brought on delirium; 
and they kept drenching my body to take away the evil which their 
system was continually exciting; and which ultimately triumphed 
completely over me. My want of exercise produced a deadly tor- 
por in the moral functions of my mind, combined with the ruin 
of my spirits by their diet and medicines. I foresaw a dreadful 
doom which I could not define, and from which, like one in a 
dream, I attempted in vain to run away. Inwardly I adjured my 
Maker, and expostulated with the voices communing with me, in 
me, or without me, to allow me exercise, as the only means of 
saving me. I addressed no one, or scarcely addressed any outward- 
ly, partly because I considered it hopeless, without pledging my- 
self to attempt what my obedience to divine inspiration bade me 
attempt hopeless to persuade them of my divine inspiration, 
partly because if ever I attempted to speak, I was checked and 
rated by the spirits, for using my own filthy utterance, or abusing 
the divine utterance. Since boyhood, I had never been confined 
to my bed for more than two or three days, nor to my room, for 
so much as a week together; and on an average had never had less 
daily, than three hours' active exercise. Now, after a fortnight's 
confinement to my room, I was fastened on my bed, with the 
liberty of my arms and legs denied to me. 

I do not know how long this continued, but I recollect when 
my eldest brother came to my bed-side, he found me so, and many 
days after his arrival in Dublin I continued to be so. It is true 
my legs were occasionally loosed, but they were as quickly tied 



40 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

down again on my resuming my insane attempts, or trying to get 
out of bed. This I used to do for two reasons; one to get water, for 
which I longed, and in which I think I succeeded once, either by 
my own efforts, or by the servant guessing at my desire, one day 
after niy brother's arrival; otherwise, I am afraid it is too true, I 
had no water to drink ever offered to me, but broth, and the most 
filthy medicine, that tasted like steel filings in a strong acid. 
Neither do I recollect receiving any solid food. I usually resisted 
both the administering of the broth and of the medicine, being 
commanded to do so, with circumstances of much spiritual insult, 
horror, and indelicacy, which I cannot now repeat. The other 
reason for which I attempted to rise out of bed, was to get to the 
window to see if it were true, as my tormentors told me, that all my 
family were there waiting to receive me, and to hail me as an 
obedient servant of the Lord Jesus, and a willing martyr to his 
glory. For when I began to lose all command of my imagination, 
I was made to believe, that in consequence of my disobedience and 
blasphemies against Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, the Roman 
Catholics in Ireland, to whom I had been ordained as an angel, 
being miraculously informed like the shepherds, by an angel shin- 
ing in the glory of the Lord, had risen up and come to Dublin, de- 
manding my crucifixion or my burning; that in the mean time the 
Almighty, provoked by my great perfidy and ingratitude, had cut 
short the days and revoked his counsels; had determined to visit 
my nation with severe plagues, and me, with all the torments he 
had reserved for Satan, whom even he had pardoned, glad to find 
one, and one only, who deserved all his everlasting plagues, and 
to be able thereby to pardon his immense creation. 

I was the one only being to be eternally damned, alone, in 
multiplied bodies, and in infinite solitude and darkness and tor- 
ments. I was told also that the Almighty in His three persons had 
descended upon earth, had entered London, and had revealed 
all these things to the king, who was also preparing on earth the 
most cruel torments for me; that my father and a sister who is now 
> no more, had been raised from the dead, and had interceded for 
me, and that my relations and friends had assembled round me 
in Dublin, and had defended me from the violence of the mob at 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 41 

the sacrifice o their own lives. My friend Captain H.'s coat which 
occasionally lay upon my sofa, for he was constantly attending 
upon me, was to my delirious imagination, a proof of his murder 
in my defence. I was agonized, and often attempted to rush to the 
window and to present myself to the mob and to save the lives of 
my friends, by my own sacrifice; at other time, to satisfy my curi- 
osity, to see if my family and relations were really there. For, I 
had a species of doubts; but no one who has not been deranged, 
can understand how dreadfully true a lunatic's insane imagination 
appears to him, how slight his sane doubts. But I was not per- 
mitted to reach the window, and I was tied down again in bed; 
then my usual delusion came on me, that I was gifted with the 
power of an elephant to break my bands; and when I tried and 
found how futile were my efforts, I was told I did not choose to" 
use the strength I had, from cowardice, or ingratitude, or laziness. 
On one occasion, I remember, after my brother had come to attend 
me, a spirit came to me whilst I was lying on my back, fatigued 
with my efforts to break the straight waistcoat, by forcing my arms 
and elbows out laterally, and said, use my strength, I will show 
you how to do it. The spirit then guided my arms and my hands, 
and with my fingers sought and scratched the seams of the waist- 
coat sleeves, soon loosened them, and I began tearing the seams 
asunder. The noise of the rending asunder however soon aroused 
my attendant, my straight waistcoat was taken off, and my arms 
were crossed over my stomach, in two heavy, hot, leathern arm 
pieces, which were not taken off from me for good, until I reached 
England. I feel thankful now for their removal. 



CHAPTER X 



THE delusions above detailed were accompanied with many 
other circumstances which I can hardly order aright in my mem- 
ory; they were to this effect. That the angels and spirits of heaven 
from pity, and Satan and all his angels, being released from their 
torments, even by my sin, from gratitude and pity, combined to 
pray the Lord to suspend his judgments, to this end; that one only 
chance for my ultimate salvation might be given me. And this 
was, that by some signal act of obedience and acknowledgment of 
my divine mission, I might so purify my spirits and soul, before 
I suffered the punishments prepared for me on earth, and entered 
into my eternal judgments, that they, by uniting their spirits with 
mine, might enable me to endure them all, however cruel, in 
patience and obedience, so as ultimately to obtain my own pardon. 

Although therefore my native genius, and the voice of one 
of my sister's spirits impelled me to sacrifice myself at any cost, 
and in any manner, rather than through my supineness or coward- 
ice, cause the death and sufferings of so many defenders; yet 
another spirit, which I understood to be that of my Saviour, or of 
his immediate messenger, implored me not to do so, because, in 
so doing, / must perish eternally, and deprive him of the glory of 
making God's whole creation an universe of bliss. 

It may be asked me, what course I would have had pursued 
towards me, seeing there was such evident danger in leaving me 
at liberty? I answer, that my conduct ought to have been tried in 
every situation compatible with my state; that I ought to have 
been dressed, if I would not dress myself; that I should have been 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 43 

invited to walk up and down my room, if not quietly, in the same 
confinement as in bed; that, whilst implements that might do me 
hurt were removed, pens, pencils, books, &c., should have been 
supplied to me; that I should have been placed in a hackney coach, 
and driven for air and exercise, towards the sea shore, and round 
the outskirts of Dublin. Few can imagine the sense of thirst and 
eager desire for freshness of air, which the recollection of that time 
yet excites in me. I do not recollect water having been presented to 
me; if it was, I systematically refused it, like every thing else; and 
it was not forced on me like the medicine and broth. If I recollect 
correctly, I got some water after my brother's arrival, and he also 
brought me once some grapes, a few of which I ate in spite of my 
false conscience, and God knows how refreshing they were. 

To resume the thread of events; I felt a gradual relaxation of 
my muscular system, accompanied with a dreadful moral torpor 
and lethargy growing upon me, from my confinement and my 
regimen. It seemed to me at last as if humours rose up momen- 
tarily through the flesh of the face, which one by one stole from 
me the control of my muscles, and destroyed my moral energy. At 
the same time, I was accused by my spiritual tormentors of willing 
it, and it was with my will, though not by my will. I used to reply 
in inward deprecation, "I cannot help it, if I have no bracing 
exercise." I was then commanded to break my fetters, and told 
that I had strength given me to do so. I attempted it again and 
again; I was provoked to do it if only for exercise, but sunk as 
often, in hopeless indolence, and my feverishness and excitement 
were increased. Then, when I lay upon my pillow, a demand was 
made of me to suffocate myself on my pillow; that if I would do 
that in obedience to the Lord's Spirit, it would be an act of obedi- 
ence, as grateful to him as any other I had been commanded. This 
delusion haunted me for many months. I imagined that I should 
be really suffocated, but saved from death, or raised from death, 
by miraculous interposition. I pressed my mouth and nostrils 
against the pillow; and I was to attend to the voices that came to 
me, directing my thoughts, and each tempting me to rise before I 
had executed the Lord's intention. I used to be deceived and to 
raise my head at some call, always out of time and place. I was 



44 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

accused of cowardice, and deceit. Night after night, and day after 
day, I was summoned to try it again and again, till I should suc- 
ceed, under the most awful penalties. I was told, that it was neces- 
sary for the perfection of the glorified man. That all the world 
had done it but me; that even my sisters had done it, that they had 
all done it repeatedly for my sake, to put off my damnation, be- 
cause it was necessary that the commands of the Lord should be 
fulfilled when once spoken, and they hoped in time that I should 
do it by their aid. When I felt the chill of the outward air upon 
my neck under the bed clothes, I was told these were spirits of my 
sisters, breathing on me to cool me, and encouraging me to go 
through with my task. I was reminded that it was my only chance 
of salvation; that, through my cowardice and want of fortitude, 
whole creations were suffering as yet the wrath of the Almighty, 
waiting for my obedience; and could not I, a man, do what women 
had done? At last, one hour, under an access of chilling horror 
at my imagined loss of honour, I was unable to prevent the sur- 
render of my judgment. The act of mind I describe, was accom- 
panied with the sound of a slight crack, and the sensation of a 
fibre breaking over the right temple; it reminded me of the main- 
stay of a mast giving away; it was succeeded by a loss of control 
over certain of the muscles of my body, and was immediately fol- 
lowed by two other cracks of the same kind, one after the other, 
each more towards the right ear, followed by an additional relaxa- 
tion of the muscles, and accompanied by an apparently additional 
surrender of the judgment. In fact, until now I had retained a kind 
of restraining power over my thoughts and belief; I now had none; 
I could not resist the spiritual guilt and contamination of any 
thought, of any suggestion. My will to choose to think orderly, 
was entirely gone. I became like one awake yet dreaming, present 
to the world in body, in spirit at the bar of heaven's judgment 
seat; or in hell, enduring terrors unutterable, by the preternatural 
menaces of everlasting and shocking torments; inexpressible 
anguish and remorse, from exaggerated accusations of my in- 
gratitude, and a degrading and self-loathing sense of moral turpi- 
tude from accusations of crimes I had never committed. I had 
often conceived it probable that insanity was occasioned by a loss 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 45 

of honour; I had not suspected that an imagined loss of honour 
could also effect such a ruin. 

The state of mind mentioned in the last chapter, was accom- 
panied by many preternatural visions and experiences. At one 
time, I saw the pale hand and arm of death stretched out over my 
bed. I felt no fear, but a sensation of confidence, that I was in 
God's keeping; if not for good, for evil. At another, I was desired 
to think orderly, and I was earnestly prayed to attempt it; but 
when I essayed, I was told I was doing nothing but "ruminate, 
ruminate all the day long." A moving light was given me, as a 
guide to know when I was ruminating or reflecting. It was a white 
light, and used to move in a circle from left to right upon the top 
of my bed. When I began to ruminate, it turned backwards to the 
left. Then my Saviour, or his angel's spirit, used to pray me to 
reflect, in order by any means to regain power over the muscles of 
my countenance. I say my Saviour or his angel, because when I 
imagined that I was in hell, that voice came to me, as the chief 
servant of Jesus in hell, directing and appointing the times and 
order of punishment and trial. I used also to hear a beautiful 
voice, that sung in the most tender, pure, and affecting notes these 
words, "Keep looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy sal- 
vationl Oh, keep looking keep looking to Jesus!" Continually 
over the head of the bed, at the left-hand side, as i in the ceiling, 
there was a sound as the voice of many waters, and I "was made to 
imagine that the jets of gas, that came from the fire-place on the 
left-hand side, were the utterance of my Father's spirit, which was 
continually within me, attempting to save me, and continually 
obliged to return to be purified in hell fire, in consequence of the 
contamination it received from my foul thoughts. I make use of 
the language I heard. From the ceiling in front of my bed, I used 
to hear the decrees of what were called the assembly of counsellors, 
often ushered in these terms: 

The will of Jehovah, the Lord is supreme- 
He shall be obeyed, and thou must worship hrml 

The word of the Lord came from the left-hand side of the 
ceiling of the room, and many spirits assailed me from all quarters. 



46 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

When I make use of these words, ceiling of the room, it will 
appear surprising, that the visions or sounds had such effect upon 
me, when sensible objects were present, and recognized by me. 
But I understood these things in a contrary sense. Besides in part 
seeing the white and flowing beards, and venerable countenances, 
I imagined I was really present to them; and that my not acknowl- 
edging it was a delusion, an obstinate resistance of the divine 
will on my part. That, of the two, the appearance of the bed, 
walls, and furniture, was false, not my preternatural impressions. 

I had at times, in the course of my life, thought within myself 
on the doctrine of the communion of saints, the ubiquity and 
omniscience of God, and the power I attributed to the Deity of re- 
vealing thoughts and actions. The expressions in the Scripture 
of the church as a body resenting the sufferings of every member, 
have led me to question whether, if we were in the spirit of God, 
we might not actually know and feel, each what the other was 
thinking about, or enduring, in various parts of the known world. 
That which had been a speculation, was now an act of faith; and 
I imagined that I could be in hell, on earth, and in heaven, at the 
same moment: nay, that I was, and that I witnessed all three 
states of existence; but that I did not see clearly the two extremes, 
because I would not acknowledge it to myself. 

Indistinct ideas, also, of Bishop Berkeley's system, excepting 
against the reality of outward objects, from the experiences we 
have in dreams &c., helped this delusion. For, reflecting on that 
system by the light of scripture, I put this question to myself, 
if the creation exists in my mind, under its present appearance, 
by the word of God, why may not my individual character, and 
the character of all objects now reflected on the mirror of the 
mind, be changed in a minute, and reiteratedly, by the word of 
the same God. 

I was usually addressed in verse; and I was made to know that 
there were three degrees of hell; with the last of which among the 
worms, the moles, and the bats, I was often threatened. One day, 
when my head was towards the right-hand corner of the bed, and 
I was lying on my back across it, with my feet tied to the left-hand 
bed-Dost at the bottom; I imagined I was being examined before 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 47 

the tribunal of the Almighty; an act of disobedience provoked 
the Almighty to cast me with a thunderbolt to hell, and the holy 
counsellors supplicated him to do so. An awful pause followed; 
I seemed removed to the gates of hell; and a stroke of lightning 
appeared to pierce the air on my right, but it did not strike me; 
for then the reason of my disobedience on earth, and the mystery 
of my sinfulness was revealed to me; and in a disconsolate and 
desolate state of mind, as one about to enter on a solitary and ever- 
lasting stage of suffering, I complained to myself that if I had 
but known these things before, and had I had but another trial 
allowed to me on earth, I hoped I might have done my duty. The 
voice I attributed to my Saviour recorded my thoughts aloud, as if 
he had staid by me to the last, and overheard me, saying, he says 
so and so. And I imagined it was agreed upon, that I should be 
tried again in this life upon earth. 

On future occasions, I was often reminded of this engagement 
on my part, and I as often stipulated that the trial should not 
commence till I was restored to the state of health I enjoyed prev- 
iously; but at the time, or on another day, when lying in the same 
position, I heard what resembled the notes of a hurdy-gurdy, 
which appeared to go round me, playing a tune that affected me 
with extreme anguish. It seemed to remind me of all that I had 
experienced and forgotten of my heavenly Father's care and love 
towards me. My mind, amidst other scenes, was transported back 
to Portugal to a day when I had passed through Alhandra on 
horseback on my way to visit the lines of Torres Vedras, in com- 
pany with three brother officers. It appeared to me, as if that day 
a little Portuguese beggar boy had been playing on a hurdy-gurdy 
in the street. But to my imagination, now, it was connected also 
with a time of life, when I had in person lived at Alhandra, a 
beggar orphan boy. When I had been taken charge of by the vicar 
or priest of the parish, who had loved me, clothed me, educated 
me, and provided for me as an assistant in the church. My pro- 
tector had introduced me to the abbot of a monastery, and he also, 
a venerable old man, had been my patron, I rewarded them, by 
aiding in the robbery of the monastery chapel, with certain bad 
companions, and carrying off a golden relique, for the loss of 



48 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

which the old abbot had been sentenced to the flames by the 
Inquisition, being accused and condemned on presumption; and 
I had been too grossly sensual to come forward and save him. I 
had returned home, and in a few days I entered the sacristie, where 
was the vicar, and having assassinated him, stole his money and 
garments; which I disposed of and had fled to Cintra. The monks 
of Alcoba^a had there met me, and I became for a time repentant; 
but I was taken into their convent, and became at last, with an- 
other lad, the servant and enjoyer of their unnatural lusts. 

During my residence there, I used often to visit Cintra, and in 
one farm house, being asked to assist in killing a pig, I had, to 
gratify my cruelty, plunged it alive into boiling water, after fast- 
ening up its mouth with sackcloth, to prevent its cries being heard. 

This strange tale was revealed to me, accompanied with an 
impression of recollection, of identity with my own experience, as 
strongly as that by which any of the delusions of Pythagoras may 
have convinced him. I remember I was first desired to recollect 
that portion of my life; and when I could not, the sounds of the 
hurdy-gurdy were sent to me, as the voice said, to quicken my 
memory. I still had difficulty to collect any ideas, except my pass- 
ing through Alhandra, my seeing the church on the right hand, 
and perhaps a young boy with a hurdy-gurdy in the street or 
market-place. But an indescribable sense of compunction, and of 
active interest in the place, wrung my feelings; and I was desired 
to recollect it as the place of my nativity. 

I then heard a voice singing to the air of music 

I do not remember the hour and the day, 
But I do remember the day and the hour, 
When I was a little boy;* 

My difficulty of recollecting was charged on my wilfulness; and so 
I understood the two first lines, that I would not, not that I could 
not, remember, and this partly from compunction at the crimes I 

* I fear the death of my poor father was at the root of all my misfortunes; 
for I can trace the notes of this air, to the time we were living happily at 
Hampstead. I was then a little boy. But not now. I do not YET understand 
his loss. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 49 

had committed on my patrons, partly from a sense of shame and 
guilt at the revelation of my acts of the monks of Alcoba^a, which 
I imagined were being exposed in the presence of my fellow- 
countrymen, especially in that of the Duke of Wellington, and the 
officers of my battalion; which also I was considered responsible 
for, although at the same time living in England in another body, 
in the discharge of my military duties. 

When I inwardly expostulated and stated that when I was 
alive in England, I had not been aware of the union existing be- 
tween me at the age of twenty-one, and a boy in Portugal of the 
age of seventeen; I was made to understand that an act of ingrati- 
tude in childhood had effaced from my mind the consciousness of 
this mystery, but that every individual besides me had experienced 
and delighted in this ubiquity of existence; and even that my 
brothers and sisters had been living in Portugal at the same time, 
and had then been acquainted with me, and living in England, 
had been conscious of that acquaintance, but could not talk to me 
concerning it, by reason of my moral darkness through sin. 

There was a horrid idea connected with this phrenzy, that in 
like manner as I had boiled the pig alive, I should be plunged into 
a huge copper of boiling water, and should be whirled round in 
it on my back with my mouth covered over with sackcloth, 
bubbling and boiling and drowning and suffocating for ever, and 
ever, and everl My eyes were also to be taken out of my head, and 
I yet spiritually see them hanging over me, looking down upon 
me and pursuing me round the cauldron. To add to my horrors, 
my dearest friends would plunge me in and stand by ridiculing 
and tormenting me. I actually believed that a sound I heard in 
the room next to mine like to boiling water, was a preparation for 
this awful punishment, and that my brother and one of my cousins 
were every moment on the eve of plunging me in and condemning 
me for ever. When they came into my room I saw them at times 
like natural men, but at times their countenances appeared hor- 
ridly swollen, and their faces darkened so that they looked black. 
Then I was told that I was not doing my duty to the Lord Jehovah 
supremely omnipotent, and that they appeared as the angels of 
hell, already prepared to execute the purposes of his wrath, but 



50 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

that I was always respited, in hope of my future obedience. My 
feelings were dreadful. 

On one of these occasions I recollect saying to my brother " 

I am desired to tell you you are a hypocrite." A voice had com- 
manded me. This was one of the few sentences I addressed to 
any living being about me. I was commanded to say many things, 
but as the penalties were the same whether I did not say them, or 
used a wrong utterance, and I was constantly rebuked for the 
latter, and pained by a sense of ingratitude, I usually held my 
tongue, till urged by a new menace, or a new appeal, generally by 
the assurance that by the act of obedience, I should be redeeming 
thousands of souls who were suffering for me the agonies of hell 
fire, because I would not obey. Many times I called loudly after 
my brother and cousin, commanded to summon them and con- 
fess to them crimes of the most incredible nature. I recollect also, 
that I fancied myself to have been to blame for the drowning of 
an old woman, on the city side of the river, below Blackfriars 
bridge. 

I saw also visions of very heavenly forms in procession; and I 
was invited to come up to heavenly places; my inability was my 
crime. I also saw on my bed curtains, two, if not three faces, one 
of my Saviour, the other of my father, and of my Almighty Father; 
both white with long white beards. Once, after seeing the face 
representing my Almighty Father, I was accused of mocking, and 
I heard his voice saying severely and firmly, "I have sworn by my 
beard I will not be mocked at," which form of words were often 
repeated. A young man also who attended me, was named to me 
at one time as my fourth brother, at one time as my youngest 
brother; that he was so really, but that I would not acknowledge 
it to be so. But the vision which made the most vivid impression 
upon me, amounting to reality, so strong an impression indeed, 
that I might almost say, the possibility of being present in two 
places at the same time may be capable of realization; thine it was, 
O Lord, to interpret it to me. When I saw the venerable counten- 
ance of my father bending over me weeping, and the crystal tears 
falling, which I felt trickling down my shoulders, the impression 
of this was so vivid, that I can hardly help now suspecting, either 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 51 

that water was dropped on my back through the ceiling and tester 
of the bed, or that I was not where I appeared to be. Still it was 
not altogether the countenance o my father, as on earth; and I 
saw a long flowing white beard. I thought, could my father's 
beard have been so white and so long? But I both thought it un- 
holy to question, and besides I could not control my thoughts to 
unravel my ideas. So my doubts took slight hold on my reason. 



CHAPTER XI 



BESIDES my struggling to get loose from my manacles, and to 
reject the medicine and broth given me, I recollect only two 
active scenes. One day I was taken out at the right side of the bed, 
and held by men, whilst shaved on the crown. My friend Captain 

was in the room. I was desired by the Lord to be patient, till 

I saw his face at the window, and then to rise up and cry something. 
I did so. I saw the face; I rose up, and cried out, and then returned 
to bed. My chief grief at that time was, that I had received the 
tonsure of the Roman Catholic priesthood, a mark of the beast. 
On another occasion when I was compelled to submit by force, and 
without the slightest word of explanation, to certain medical treat- 
ment, I was sensible of the indelicacy: on both, the option was 
given me to resist, and though I partially resisted, the fear of injury 
to my person seems to have biassed me to prefer submission. 

When my brother [Spencer] first appeared by my bed-side, "I 
have hopes now," said I, "I shall be understood and respected;" 
for he had written to me that he believed the reported miracles at 
Row. When, however, I first told him, "I am desired to say so and 
so," "I am desired to do this, or that" he replied to me, in an 
ill-judged tone of levity, and as if speaking to a child; ridiculing 
the idea. My hopes of being comprehended were blighted, and my 
heart turned from him. I reflected; my brother knew my powers 
of mind, he ought to consider that it can be no light matter that 
can so change me. I then resumed my silence, addressing no one 
except on a few occasions, and by command. Afterwards, as I got 
worse, I imagined the Almighty had cut short the times, and re- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 53 

deemed all men for my sins' sake, to visit all sins on my head; then 
I imagined also, that men now moved in a new life, knowing my 
thoughts and the Lord's thoughts, and the thoughts of one an- 
other. And when I was tempted to ask and ascertain any of these 
facts, I was told it was of no use, for that they would read whether 
I did so or not in obedience to the Lord, and, if I did not, would 
answer falsely. 

Thus my delusions, or the meshes in which my reasoning facul- 
ties were entangled, became perfected; and it was next to impos- 
sible thoroughly to remove them, perhaps, for man's word alone, 
impossible. 

Had my brother but said to himself, "there is something strange 
here; I will try to understand it" had he but pretended to give 
credit to what I said, and reasoned with me on the matter revealed 
to me, acknowledging the possibility, but denying or questioning 
the divine nature of my inspirations; I should, perhaps, have been 
soon rescued from my dreadful situation, and saved from ruin: 
but it was not so. 

During my confinement in Dublin, I knew no malice against 
any individual present with me, although I often contended with 
them. My mind was intensely occupied with the invisible agents I 
fancied to haunt me. Towards them I often indulged in spiteful 
acts of resistance and disobedience, overcome by the cruel taunts, 
and malevolent and contumelious language I received from them. 
At times, also, an inclination to humour or drollery made me dupe 
them but this, more especially, a few months afterwards. These 
acts of disobedience were always combined with childish and ab- 
surd delusion. At one time, I took my medicine and swallowed it, 
with a design to poison the spirit residing in me: at another, I 
refused to suffocate myself on the pillow, to try to burst my man- 
acles, or I drank my broth; in short, that conduct which people 
in their (so called) sound senses expected of me, I considered sin; 
that which they considered folly, I considered my duty; so com- 
pletely was my judgment confounded. 

Gradually I got better; I can hardly recollect how; but I re- 
member a kind of confidence of mind came in me the evening 
after I had been threatened, and saw the thunderbolt fall harmless 



54 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

by my side, and when two days passed, and still found me safe in 
my bed. Also another night, shortly before I was removed from 
Dublin, I was trying to suffocate myself on the pillow as usual, 
when a command was given to one of my sisters to cut my throat, 
and my imagination was shocked by her accepting the office. 
Nothing ensuing, confidence again came in me, and this night a 
change took place in the tone of the voices. I recollect also a 
dream, in which I was in a bed in another house, during which I 
imagined that the Holy Ghost had descended upon me, like a 
downy cloud of a buff or nankeen colour, and had sworn to bring 
me out of my troubles, and no more to foresake me. This dream 
left so strong an impression of reality, that it became the founda- 
tion of other delusions, but at the time it comforted me. However 
it was, I recollect I found myself one day left alone, and at liberty 
to leave my bed. I got up, and knelt down to pray. I did not pray, 
but I saw a vision, intended, as I understood, to convey to me the 
idea of the mechanism of the human mind! A morning or two 
after that, I was made to rise and dress, and left to breakfast; my 
brother breakfasted with me or after me; being desired by some 
spirits to leave the toast for him, a secret humour came upon me 
to eat it all up. I think I did so. It is to me still a mystery that I 
was so soon left alone for so long a time. Portmanteaus were being 
packed, I was made to go down stairs, get into a hackney coach, 
and go on board a Bristol packet. Whilst standing on the quay, I 
recognised a poor Irish lad, who used to hold my horse, and to do 
commissions for me; he had watched for me, and followed me, to 
see me embark. I could not express my feelings; but as he stood 
chill and shivering a little way off, there was an expression of dis- 
trust in his features; and I felt as if he were a truer friend than 
those occupied about my person. 



CHAPTER XII 



WHEN I entered the packet, I descended with my brother and 
the stout servant who had hitherto attended me, into the cabin. 
I was desired to be seated; they attended to the portmanteaus. 
Unfortunately, either in obedience to the voices, or to my desire 
for action, I began walking about. In consequence, I was made to 
go to my bed, which God knows, I had had enough of. I soon 
became here again a sport of the wildest delusions. I imagined 
that on account of my sins, the ship and the whole ship's crew 
would be foundered on the voyage, unless I was thrown overboard 
like a second Jonah. I was desired to call out to my brother to 
come down; to inform him of the danger the ship was in; at one 
time to say one thing; at another, another; my brother came down; 
he put off my entreaties to let me come on deck; he joked at my 
fears. I then was desired to call for the captain. I called as loud 
as I could, but I was told it was not loud enough that he had not 
heard me. That the storm was too loud that I had, however, a 
voice given me, that would pierce through any confusion, but that 
my lethargy, my wilful, sinful lethargy, alone prevented me 
using it. I was then desired to prove that I was willing to sacrifice 
myself, and to overcome this lethargy, by getting out of my berth, 
and running upon deck. My servant struggled with me, and could 
only get me down by lying on me. This, of course, did not con- 
tribute to my health or comfort. At last, he got a pair of steel hand- 
cuffs on me. I was told it was my duty to slay him, that I might 
get on deck and devote myself to save the ship and crew. I struck 
at him with my manacled arms, endeavouring to kill him. When 
all my efforts availed nothing, I was still accused of lethargy and 



56 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

indifference, and made to consider this indifference the more 
dreadful, by the report that my dearest brothers, and many of my 
family who had come to Dublin to suffer and to die for me, were 
on deck likely to perish through my slothful ingratitude and stub- 
born refusal to make use of miraculous power given to me. At 
last, my servant got the leathern cases on my arms, and I was com- 
pelled to be the passive object of the tortures of my imagination. 

The next morning we were moored alongside one of the quays 
at Bristol. When nearly all the passengers were on shore, I was 
conducted into the cabin; I recollect my brother being there and 
our standing by the stove; I think there was another gentleman 
there part of the time, and the captain came in soon after. I made 
some observations or answers, but I do not recollect what. My 
mind was recovering from the shock of its horrid delusions, and I 
felt a happy consciousness of my safety and of that of the crew, 
and a desire to realize it by being on shore. At the same time I felt 
an indignant hate towards the voices that had so acutely terrified 
me. But the next minute another snare was laid for me; that all 
that I saw around me was but a vision, that the ship had in reality 
foundered, and that the crew had been drowned, but that they, 
knowing the secret will of my Heavenly Father, and the dreadful 
and eternal torments prepared for me, had prayed to suffer death 
for me, whilst by the assistance of their spirits I was saved from 
the sense of the loss of the vessel and of my drowning until I could, 
by obtaining a repentant mind, undergo it hereafter patiently to 
my glory. However, my doubts were strong, and I now no longer 
obeyed the commands of these voices so implicitly. On landing, I 
called to my mind my landing near the same spot with my battalion 
in 1829. * accompanied my brother to an Hotel. I was shown up 
stairs into a large room with two beds in it. My brother remained 
with me. I was seated in an arm chair. A doctor entered, and with 
the sagacity belonging to the tribe, a sagacity by which they are 
sure to lose nothing, I was condemned again to my bed. I would 
have given my hand to remain up; my bed was a scene of horrors 
to me. However, I made no reply, and to bed I went. 

I was scarcely in bed when I became a prey to new delusions. 
It was snowing at the time. I was told that a dreadful winter was 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 57 

to fall upon the country, on account of my sin. I was told that 
Bristol was on fire, and made to see flames; that the house was to 
fall and destroy every one in it; and this, all for my sin. My brother 
was sitting in the room with me. I expected every moment to see 
the walls crush him. I warned him to go away, for that the house 
was going to fall. I told him I saw the town in flames, he naturally 
made light of what I said. He recollected my words afterwards 
when the riots were in town. I was told that the reason he did not 
believe me was, that I did not address him in the tongue given to 
me; I was rebuked and upbraided for it. I essayed again, but I 
met with the same rebukes. I lost all patience. Again I was ordered 
to suffocate myself, and to kick about in various postures in the 
bed; unless I did so, that Satan would enter me, and that then my 
Saviour must endure in me fresh torments, to rescue my soul from 
hell. For though Satan was redeemed, yet he could only be my 
most skilful tormentor and destroyer, if I were not redeemed too, 
and delight also in his office, if I were at last reprobate. It seemed 
to me that Satan's spirit came to the left side of my bed and en- 
tered my body, and that I allowed it, for that I was so teazed that 
I delighted in the prospects of my Saviour's sufferings; immediately 
afterwards I was seized with compunction and dread. 

The spirits also told me that a dinner would be brought to me; 
that some Irish stew had been ordered for me by my brother, 
which it was intended I should eat, but that a fowl would be sent 
me from heavenly places to tempt me, which I was to refuse. It 
was not the first time I had heard the like from the spirits, nor was 
it the last. 

I did not understand what this meant, but I became very hun- 
gry. After some time the door opened, and a servant came in with 
the dish, containing a boiled fowl, which appeared very large and 
plump; I looked for the Irish stew, but it did not appear; the 
fowl on being brought near appeared small and meagre, and again 
plump, and twice its former size. The spirits then, to my inward 
observations, that there was but one dish, replied, that it was re- 
solved to tempt me by a dish of the same kind, to make my trial 
more easy. That a fowl had been ordered for me on earth, as well 
as the fowl in heavenly places, because it was supposed I would 



58 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

at least consent to relinquish the second for the salvation of my 
soul, and the happiness of so many thousands interested in me; 
when I might eat the other. However the humour came upon me 
that I would dine in heavenly places as I called it, and I could not 
resist it; and yet it was with my will. For, after what I have related 
as having occurred in Dublin, I had no power to restrain my will, 
my cupidity, my avidity, from moral contamination, nay, the more 
I attempted to resist contamination, the more my power over my 
will seemed to evade me: besides this, there was a difficulty in obey- 
ing the commands given to me, because, even whilst eating the 
fowl, I was puzzled by the change in its appearance, and told, 
"now you must refuse it, because you are in heavenly places, now 
you may eat it because you are on earth," according as it appeared 
beautiful or common. 

The greater part of the night I passed in great torments. Next 
day I was in a post chaise with my brother on my road to Bath; 
the snow on the ground; in my mind earnestly desiring to be at 
home; and the voices dictating to me the conditions on which my 
Heavenly Father would allow my brother to take me home, and 
threatening other things if I did not perform these conditions. I 
was to utter certain phrases, make certain confessions, and the 
like. I thought I recollected the road along which I had marched 
in 1829, but I was not sure. 

We turned to the left through some gates by a porter's lodge, 
a few miles on the road to London, and we drove up to a door of a 
house on the right-hand side; we alighted, and I was ushered into 
a small room on the left-hand side of the passage, and shortly 
after a young man came in, and then an old man, a very old man. 
I do not recollect being introduced to either. My brother went out 
and came in again. A man servant came and occupied himself in 
taking away the portmanteaus, and in laying the cloth for my 
dinner, he afterwards waited on me. He had a black coat on, and 
my spirits told me his name was ZACHARY GIBBS. All was in a 
mystery to me; only I understood that on certain conditions I was 
to go home, which was all I desired, whilst on certain other con- 
ditions I was to be left here. The spirits told me this. 

After the meat, a raspberry tartlet or two were brought to table; 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 59 

they appeared to be very large, clean, and beautiful, and I was 
told they were sent to me from heavenly places; that I was to refuse 
them; that they were sent to try me; that if I refused them I should 

be doing my duty, and my brother would take me to E [Ea- 

ling]. The same humour came on me to eat them all the quicker, 
under the idea that they had given me nothing but slops and physic 
for a fortnight or more, and now, if they are such fools as to bring 
me up into heavenly places, I'll make the best of it My brother 
again went out, and I did not see him enter any more; this pained 
me exceedingly; I thought he would at least have bid me adieu; 
but the spirits told me that he was so disgusted at seeing me eating 
the tarts, when he knew that if I could have refused one I should 
have been allowed by the Almighty to return to my mother and 
family, and that I knew it, that he had resolved to leave me with- 
out bidding adieu, and had given me up into the hands of the 
Almighty. I imagine now that his abrupt departure was pre- 
concerted for fear of any opposition on my part. 

Well, my brother went, and I was left amongst strangers. 

If I had had any introduction to Dr. F. [Fox] at least I was un- 
conscious of it. I was left to account for my position in that asylum, 
for I was in Dr. F/s asylum, to the working of my own, and be it 
recollected, a lunatic imagination? 

My spirits told me that I was in the house of an old friend of 
my father's where certain duties were expected of me, that I knew 
what those duties were, but I pretended ignorance because I was 
afraid of the malice and persecution of the world in performing 
them. I persisted nevertheless in inwardly maintaining my ig- 
norance and in divining what could be the meaning of these words. 
What ensued the evening my brother went away I do not recollect. 
I went to bed in a small, narrow, disconsolate looking room with 
stuccoed floor, over part of which was a carpet, bare white walls, 
a fire-place and fire in the corner, on the right-hand side by the 
window: the window opposite the door, the sill about the height 
of a man's waist, white window blinds, a table, a wash-hand-stand 
and a few chairs: on the left-hand side, two beds, occupying more 
than one third the breadth of the room, the one nearest the window 
with white bed hangings on a slight iron frame, the other nearer 



6o PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

the door, made on the floor or very low: on this my attendant slept. 

I was put to bed with my arms fastened. Either that night or 
the next, the heavy leathern cases were taken off my arms, to my 
great delight, and replaced by a straight waistcoat. The night 
brought to me my usual torments, but I slept during part of it 
sounder and better than before. In the morning I recollect ob- 
serving a book of manuscript prayers, and a prayer book or Bible 
bound in blue morocco; the impression on my feelings was very 
dreary, and as if I had been imprisoned for a crime or for debt; 
but I was occupied as usual with the agony of mind occasioned by 
the incomprehensible commands, injunctions, insinuations, 
threats, taunts, insults, sarcasms, and pathetic appeals of the voices 
round me. Soon after I awoke, Zachary Gibbs made his appear- 
ance with a basin of tea and some bread and butter cut in small 
square pieces, about the size of those prepared for the holy sacra- 
ment. He staid in my room by my bed-side, whilst I eat my 
breakfast. 

I was not now aware that I was lunatic, nor did I admit this 
idea until the end of the year. I knew that I was prevented from 
discharging my duties to my Creator and to mankind, by some 
misunderstanding on my part; for which, on the authority of my 
spiritual accusers, I considered that I was wilfully guilty; racking 
my mind at the same time to divine their meaning. I imagined 
now that I was placed in this new position as a place of trial, that 
it might be seen whether I would persist in my malignant, or 
cowardly, or sluggish disobedience to the last. I imagined at the 
same time, that I was placed here "to be taught of the spirits" 
that is, (for they all spoke in different keys, tones, and measures, 
imitating usually the voices of relations or friends,) to learn what 
was the nature of each spirit that spoke to me, whether a spirit of 
fun, of humour, of sincerity, of honesty, of honour, of hypocrisy, 
of perfect obedience, or what not, and to acquire knowledge to 
answer to the suggestions or arguments of each, as they in turn ad- 
dressed me, or to choose which I would obey. 

For instance, whilst eating my breakfast, different spirits as- 
sailed me, frying me. One said, eat a piece of bread for my sake, 
&c, &c.; another at the same time would say, refuse it for my sake, 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 61 

or, refuse that piece for my sake or take that; others, in like manner, 
would direct me to take or refuse my tea. I could seldom refuse 
one, without disobeying the other; and to add to my disturbance 
of mind, at these unusual phenomena, and at the grief of mind 
and at times alarm, I appeared to feel at disobeying any, Zachary 
Gibbs stood by my bed-side observing me in a new character. I 
understood that he was now no longer Zachary Gibbs, but a spirit- 
ual body called HERMINET HERBERT, the personification, in fact, 
of that spirit which had attended me in Dublin, so intimately 
united with my Saviour; indeed in my mind almost identified with 
Jesus. 

I understood that as a seal to the information I now received 
from my spirits, he had put on a nankeen jacket, in order by that 
color to remind me of the dream, in which the Holy Ghost, who 
was his mother, had appeared to me, promising never to desert 
me. That he knew all my thoughts, and all I was inspired to do, 
and could not be deceived. He had come to aid me; but that at 
the same time, to prove my faith, he would act as if he were a man 
in plain circumstances, if he saw I doubted. 

Whilst therefore I was hesitating about each morsel I put into 
my mouth, he stood by, encouraging me to eat, and pressing me to 
finish my breakfast, or he would leave me and come back, saying, 
"What! haven't you done yet?*' Persuaded that he knew and com- 
manded what was going on in my mind, I did not believe his en- 
couragements sincere; but intended also to try me. I could not 
stand the ridicule I met with from my spirits, or to which I exposed 
myself in reality: I forced my conscience, wounding my spirits; 
teazed, tormented, twitted, frightened, at times I was made to dupe 
my spirits by humour. Thus, it appeared to me that, whilst stand- 
ing on the very threshold of heaven, eternal hell yawned at my 
feet; through my stupidity and impatience. 

For about three mornings, my breakfast was brought to me in 
this manner; after breakfast, I was dressed, and for two or three 
days taken down to a small square parlour, with two windows 
opposite the entrance, looking over some leads into a court, thence 
over a garden to a flat country terminated by hills, about two or 
three miles off. The windows had iron Venetian blinds before 



62 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

them; looking through them, I saw snow on the leads; I was still 
under the impression that this was the effect of a dismal winter 
sent upon my country for my disobedience. There was a round 
mirror between the windows; in the left-hand side of the room, an 
iron fire-place with a fire in it. At the bottom of the grate, over 
the arch under which the cinders fall, a hideous face and mouth ap- 
peared moulded in the iron. At the end of the year, when I ex- 
amined it again, I saw my eyes also had been deluded, unless the 
grate had been changed, for the ornament was a basket of flowers, 
not a face. Besides this, there was a horsehair sofa opposite the 
windows, against the wall; some chairs and a table; also a table 
against the wall in the centre of the room. 

When I came into the room, there was a mild old rheumatic 
man there, who had on a white apron. He was of low stature, and 
in countenance resembling my father very strongly. My spirits 
informed me it was my father, who had been raised from the dead, 
in order, if possible, to assist in saving my soul. He was also in a 
spiritual body. Every thing in short, had been done to save me by 
quickening my affections, in order to overcome my torpor, and in- 
gratitude, and fear of man. The chairs in the room, resembling 
those I had seen when a child in my father's dining-room; the very 
trees in the distance, resembling others in the prospect round my 
mother's house; almost all that I saw had been brought by the 
Almighty power, or infinite goodness of the Lord, and placed 
around me to quicken my feelings! If a man can imagine realizing 
these ideas, in any degree, awake, he may imagine what were my 
sufferings. 

I asked now what I was to do. There was a newspaper lying on 
the table, but I could not read it, because, before I had been taken 
unwell in Dublin, when looking for guidance from the Holy Spirit, 
I had been diverted from reading the papers, except here and there, 
as if it were unwholesome to the mind. I thought it ungrateful 
now to have recourse to them for amusement, and for that reason, 
or "by that reply," in the language of my invisible companions, I 
decided my resolution, without quite satisfying them. 

What was I to do? I was told it was necessary to do something 
"to keep my heart to my head, and my head to my heart," to pre- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 63 

vent "my going into a wrong state of mind," phrases used to me. 
I was told, at length, to "waltz round the table, and see what I 
should see," I did that nothing came of it. My attendant re- 
quested me to be quiet; at last, my dinner was brought. I had, if 
I recollect accurately, two dinners in this room one was of a kind 
of forced meat; the other had bacon with it: both meals were very 
light, and although I did not refuse them, I recollect feeling that I 
could have eaten something more substantial, and also being nau- 
seated at the forced meat and bacon, which, I considered, could not 
be exactly wholesome for me. 

My dinner in this room was served on a tray, with a napkin, 
silver forks, decanters, &c. &c., and in these respects, such as was 
fitting for a gentleman. 

Unfortunately, the second day I think after my entrance into 
this asylum, having no books, no occupation, nothing to do but to 
look out of window, or read the newspaper, I was again excited 
by my spirits to waltz round the room; in doing this, or at a future 
period, I caught the reflection of my countenance in the mirror. 
I was shocked and stood still; my countenance looked round and 
unmeaning: I cried to myself, "Ichabodl my glory has departed 
from me," then I said to myself, what a hypocrite I look like! So 
far I was in a right state of mind; but the next thought was, "how 
shall I set about to destroy my hypocrisy;" then I became again 
lunatic. Then I resumed my waltzing, and being directed to do so, 
I took hold of my old attendant to waltz with him; but at last, 
deeming that absurd, and finding him refuse, the spirits said, "then 
wrestle with him if you will." I asked him to wrestle; but he re- 
fused. I understood this was to try me if I was sincere; I seized 
him to force him to wrestle; he became alarmed; an old patient in 
the asylum passing by the door, hearing a struggle, entered, and 
assisted in putting me into a straight waistcoat: I was forced down 
on the sofa. He apologized to me for it many months after, saying 
it was in the afternoon, when all the other assistants were out 
walking with their respective patients. 

Thus commenced my second ruin; and the history of an awful 
course of sufferings and cruelties, which terminated in my re- 
covery from my delusions about the beginning of the next year, 



64 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

and was followed by my confinement as a madman, for nearly two 
years in a sound state of mind; because I entered into dispute with 
my family on their conduct to me, and the nature of my treatment, 
determined to bring them to account at law, for the warning of 
others, and to satisfy my excited sense of wrong. I can no longer, 

after arriving at this period of my trials, call Dr. F 's [Fox's] 

house by any other name than that it deserves, madhouse, for to 
call that, or any like that, an asylum, is cruel mockery and revolting 
duplicity! 

I have already stated, that when I came to this house, I did not 
know that I was insane. And my insanity appears to me to have 
differed in one respect from that of many other patients; that I 
was not actuated by impression or feeling, but misled by audible 
inspiration, or visible, rather than sensible guidance of my limbs. 
To the voices I heard, and to these guidances, I surrendered up my 
judgment, or what remained to me of judgment, fearing that I 
should be disobeying the word of God, if I did not do so. When I 
first came to Dr. F 's madhouse, my health was somewhat re- 
stored, my mind somewhat confirmed; yet my attendant informed 
me at the close of the year, I looked so ill when my brother left me, 
that he thought I could not live. I was like a child in thought and 
will, so far as my feelings were directed to those around me. I knew 
no malice, no vice. I imagined that they loved me, and were all 
deeply interested in the salvation of my soul, and I imagined too 
that I loved them dearly. Yet I wrestled with the keepers, and 
offered to do so with others, and struck many hard blows; some- 
times, as one informed me, making it difficult for three strong men 
to control me, yet whenever I did this, I was commanded to do so. 
I was told that they knew I was commanded, that they wished me to 
do so, to prove my faith and courage, but that they were command- 
ed to prove both till they were satisfied of my sincerity. I may 
safely say, that for nine entire months, if not for the whole period 

of my confinement in Dr. F 's charge, I never spoke, hardly 

acted, and hardly thought, but by inspiration or guidance, and 
yet I suppose that never was there any one who so completely 
contradicted the will of the Almighty, or the desires of those 
around him, and I could not help laughing now at the delusions 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 65 

which made me constantly choose that conduct which was most 
disagreeable and terrifying to my doctor and his keepers, as in the 
reality the most agreeable to them, if I were not overcome by a 
sense of the cruel state of abandonment and exposure to their 
malice and ignorance in which I was left 

After being fastened in the straight waistcoat, I was taken 
down stairs to a long saloon or parlour, to the left of the little 
parlour I had been as yet confined to, and on the ground floor. 
There was a long table in the middle of the room, allowing space 
to pass round it, a fire on the left-hand side, and a glass bow win- 
dow and door at the further end. I was fastened in a niche on a 
painted wooden seat between the fire and the glass window, in 
the curve in the wall forming the bow at the end of the room; 
another niche opposite to me was occupied by a trembling grey 
headed old man; there were several other strange looking person- 
ages on the chairs about the room, and passing occasionally 
through the glass window door which looked out in the same di- 
rection as the windows of the room I had quitted, into a small 
court yard. I think I hear the door jarring now, as they slammed 
it to and fro. I marvelled at my position; my spirits told me that 
I was now in a madhouse, and I was told that it only remained for 
me to pray for the inmates, that they might be restored to their 
senses, and that they should be restored, but that I must then fore- 
go certain advantages. I attempted to pray, though I did not quite 
believe that I was in a madhouse, being unconscious of my own 
melancholy state, or imagining that I was placed there for con- 
venience, not from necessity. There was an appearance of wretch- 
edness and disorder amongst my associates, and I felt happy to be 
taken up to my bed-room after tea had been served in the evening. 

The next morning my breakfast was brought to me as before 
in bed. I was dressed up stairs, and Herminet Herbert con- 
ducted me down to the seat I occupied the night before. There 
was an appearance of more cleanliness, order, and composure 
in the persons of the wretched individuals around me. Now I was 
told by my spirits that my prayer had been heard, that they had 
been restored to a sound state of mind, that they were in conse- 
quence among the redeemed of the Lord and knew that I had 



66 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

prayed for them, that they had in their turn desired to be allowed 
to remain with me one year as guides to me, and as a species of 
jury, to wait until I became obedient to the Almighty, and to 
judge me whether I was sincere in my difficulties or not; this de- 
lusion lasted for more than six months with this difference, that 
sometimes I conceived it my duty to recognize in their persons, 
relations, and friends, sometimes ministers and officers of the king. 

The trembling grey headed old man was still opposite to me, 
and I was told that he was the Father Confessor, to whom I used 
to confess my sins in Portugal, and that he was there waiting to 
hear my confessions concerning my crimes as a poor lad at Alco- 
baga. Before my trials and punishments commenced, I was de- 
sired to confess to him. I tried several times, but I was checked by 
the noise, by his inattention, and by the rebukes of my spirits. He 
did not appear often after; whether he died or whether he was re- 
moved, I cannot say. 

There were two or three volumes of a register in the room, and 
a large octavo Bible. I tried to read them but I was always puzzled 
and dodged by my tormentors, who could not let me rest, but 
made me turn from one place to another, usually guiding me after 
all to an anecdote about a Russian lady and a Czar of Russia, 
which I read over till I was sick of it, and which I perfectly under- 
stood. I recollect the first few days I was down in this room I 
was occasionally allowed to leave the niche in the evening, and sit 
by the fire or table, when I used to try to read these books; but 
one evening, Herminet Herbert on remarking my behavior, for 
some cause fastened me up again; after that, I did not regain my 
liberty of action in doors for six or more months. It was in the 
cricketting season after the hay was made, that I was first allowed 
to walk about in the room and yard amongst my fellow prisoners. 

Not long after my introduction into this room, the three regis- 
ters were taken away; the Bible remained. When I was allowed 
to use my discretion, I used to read this in the yard, until an old 
lunatic, whom I imagined to be the Lord Jehovah, forbade me to 
do so, and I obeyed. I recollect the servant bringing it in soiled 
and defaced in the winter from under the privet hedge, where 
it had been hidden by one of the lunatics. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 67 

Besides this, occasionally one or two papers were brought into 
the room. My delusions increased so rapidly and became so con- 
firmed after I was placed here, that my constant train of idea and 
habit of thought ran upon England, and this world, as of a cre- 
ation gone by; I understood at one time that, the Almighty hav- 
ing cut short the times and redeemed the whole world, every part 
of the creation was changed, but that with a view to give me every 
chance of saving my soul, I was allowed to walk in a vision repre- 
senting objects as they were when I was in England. I did not 
entirely believe these communications; still they had such an effect 
upon my mind that my form of thought was always "when I was 
in England," "when I was in the world/' 

I recollect with what eagerness I tried to get hold of the news- 
papers when I first saw them in this room, to discover if events 
were going on as I had left them, and what courage it gave me at 
first to read the articles of the war in Poland accompanied with a 
comfortable assurance that I was still in the land of the living, 
like that related of one when he first saw a gibbet. But now I was 
told that these papers were printed to try me, that the Almighty 
made me read just what he would, but that if I were redeemed I 
should see other words printed there, heavenly ideas which they 
who were around me saw. 

I thought that the lapse of time had been concealed from me, 
and though really in hell one moment and in heaven another, yet 
I was only allowed to see around me events as they had taken 
place in England and elsewhere in the year 1831, after my illness 
in and removal from Dublin. That at that time the Almighty had 
caused the war in Poland to break out to atone for my sins, and 
had visited England with a destructive winter and pestilences on 
account of my blasphemies, and therefore now I read in the papers 
what had taken place as at that time. 

For I imagined that whenever I disobeyed the word of the 
Lord or did not fulfil it, pretending, as I was accused of, not to 
understand it, the wrath of God commanded horrible torments 
on me, and that His word being once passed, it was necessary that 
they should be endured, and that I ultimately should myself suffer 
them: which I must either do in His power or in a state of rebel- 



68 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

lion and despair, wherefore the spirits and persons round me and 
affected towards me, undertook to endure them as often as they 
were commanded, hoping for the time, that I should endure them 
to my own and to God's glory. But enough of these horrors and 
imbecilities for the present. 



CHAPTER XIII 



LET no man mock at the understanding that could so patiently 
or humbly submit to such seemingly absurd teachings; but rather 
let him fear and pray that the power of the Lord to confound the 
judgment and wisdom of man may not be put forth upon him. 

My mind was not destroyed, without the ruin of my body. 
My delusions, though they often made me ridiculous, did not 
derange my understanding unaided by the poisonous medicines 
and unnatural treatment of my physicians. Then when I be- 
came insane, the knowledge of that fact appears to have given to 
every one who had to deal with me carte blanche to act towards 
me, as far as seemed good unto himself, in defiance of nature, of 
common sense, and of humanity. The wonder is, not that I fell, 
but that, having through my fall come into the net which is spread 
by the arts and malice of the lunatic doctors, I could endure their 
treatment, and, recovering from under it, exercise my own native 
sense of justice boldly in spite of their will, whilst still unsound in 
judgment, and ultimately ride triumphant over the waves of mis- 
fortune! My senses were all mocked at and deceived. In reading, 
my eyes saw words in the paper which when I looked again were 
not. The forms of those around me and their features changed, 
even as I looked on them. Nature appeared at times renewed, and 
in a beautiful medium that reminded me of the promises of the 
gospel and the prophecies concerning the times of refreshing and 
renewal; in a few minutes she again appeared trite and barren of 
virtue, as I had used to know her. I heard the voices of invisible 
agents, and notes so divine, so pure, so holy, that they alone per- 



70 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

haps might recompense me for my sufferings. My sense of feeling 
was not the same, my smell, my taste, gone or confounded. 

Believing in miraculous agency, and the subject of miraculous 
sensations, I received these as the word and guidance of God, for 
their beauty and their apparent tendency to promote purity and 
benevolence. And if I doubted, my doubts were overwhelmed if 
not dissipated by compunction at attributing what was so kind, 
so lovely, so touching, to any but the divine nature, and by fear of 
committing the sin against the Holy Ghost. Whatever then ap- 
peared contradictory, or did not turn out as I expected, I at- 
tributed to my disobedience or want of understanding, not to 
want of truth in my mediator. 



CHAPTER XIV 



THE next morning after my entrance into the lunatics' com- 
mon room, I observed three men, apparently servants or attend- 
ants of the gentlemen there. One was Henninet Herbert, whom 
in a black coat I was to address as Zachary Gibbs, and who I was 
afterwards told, on seeing him in a blue coat, was Samuel Hobbs; 
but under all these appearances he was one and the same Jesus. 
I used to call him Henninet Herbert, the simple, and Jesus Christ. 
He was a short, active, fair, witty, clever man. The other was a 
tall, spare, aquiline nosed gawky man, from Devonshire, like a 
groom. The voices told me to call him at times Henninet Herbert 
Scott, at times, Sincerity; at times, Marshall; that was his name. 
The third was a stout, jovial, powerful man, like a labourer. The 
voices told me he was Henninet Herbert, the simple, God Al- 
mighty, and that I was to call him SIMPLICITY; his name was Poole. 
Besides this, a very stout, powerful dark man, like a coach-man, 
with a very small voice and gentle manners, was occasionally oc- 
cupied in attending on me and other patients. I called him by 
order Henninet Herbert the Holy Ghost, or Kill-all. I understood 
these were incarnations or manifestations of the Trinity. A stout 
benevolent old gentleman, a lunatic, who was dressed in a suit of 
blue, and had been handsome, was I was informed, the Lord Je- 
hovah, supremely omnipotent, the trinity in unity, who had taken 
upon himself the form of an old writing master who used to teach 
me when a child, and whose name was Waldony, by which name, 
and by that of Benevolence, I was at times desired to address him. 
Likewise I understood Herminet Herbert Scott, or Marshall, to be 



72 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

a favourite servant of my Father's, who had lived in our family at 
Hampstead, and had been raised from the dead with my father 
and my eldest sister to attend on me. And Herminet Herbert the 
simple, or Samuel Hobbs, I was told had lived in my mother's 
family after my father's death, and had been very fond of me and 
my brothers, and familiar with us; that my brothers had known 
at the time that he was Jesus, but that I had not; that during an 
illness I had had when young, he had wrestled with me in the 
school-room, it being necessary for my health, and he had come 
now in hopes of winning me to wrestle with him again, which was 
continually enjoined to me for the salvation of my soul, and the 
keeping me in a right state of mind. Several persons about the 
asylum, I was told, were my father, Dr. F. [Fox], a Dr. L., and two 
aged keepers, one of whom I called Honesty; the other, my real 
father, because he most resembled him. Now, when I did not 
recognize any of these facts or any of these people, I was told it 
was on account of my ingratitude and my cowardice. That I 
feared to acknowledge objects as they were, because then I knew 
I must prepare to endure my awful torments. 

Now all these persons, and each person around me, wore a 
triple character, according to each of which I was in turns to ad- 
dress them. Samuel Hobbs, for example, was at times to be wor- 
shipped in the character of Jesus, at times to be treated familiarly 
as Herminet Herbert, a spiritual body, at times to be dealt with 
as plain Samuel Hobbs. The stout old patient was at times knelt 
to as the Lord Jehovah; at times he was Mr. Waldony, a spiritual 
body; at times a gentleman. So with the rest: and these changes 
took place so instantaneously, that I was completely puzzled as to 
my deportment towards them. I saw individuals and members of 

the family of Dr. F [F x ] approach me in great beauty, and 

in obedience to a voice, my inclinations sprang forward to salute 
them, when in an instant, their appearance changed, and another 
command made me hesitate and draw back. In the same manner, 
when books, pencils, pens, or any occupation was presented to me, 
I turned from one page and one object, to another, and back 
again, usually ending in a fit of exasperation and inward indigna- 
tion, against the guidance that so perplexed me. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 73 

Besides the personages I have already taken notice of, there 
were eleven patients in the room, to each of which my spirits gave 
a name, and assigned a particular office towards me. There were 
three I addressed as Mr. Fitzherbert; a Captain P. who was my 

spirit of family pride; a Captain W , who was my spirit of 

joviality; a Mr. , a Quaker, who was my spirit of simplicity; 

a Mr. D , who for a long time I imagined to be, and addressed 

as, Dr. F [Fox?] and afterwards as one of my uncles; a Mr, 

A , who was my fifth brother, and my spirit of contrition; the 

Rev. Mr. J , a Devonshire curate, who was one of my first 

cousins, my spirit of affection, and the representation of the apostle 
St. John; a Mr. J. who was my spirit of honesty, and my youngest 

brother; a Mr. , who thought himself the Duke of Somerset, 

and whom I addressed as Mr. Fazakerley, my spirit of delicacy and 

contrition; and Captain a dark man, who had lost his left 

leg, and the use of his left arm; and who for six months stood up 
in one position, and for six months sat down in one position him 
my spirits called Patience; and told me he was my executioner, 
waiting for the decision of the jury upon me, to officiate on me, 
but still one of my best friends. 

Besides these, the youngest Mrs. F [Fox] was pointed out 

to me as repentance; two of the housekeepers as my mother, and 
two servant girls, one as a sister and a cousin, and one as my de- 
ceased sister. I was told that the reason I did not recognize them 
was, that I could not or would not, for sin. And certainly the 
countenances of those about changed in a wonderful manner. And 
I did at one time, amongst the patients see one of iny aunts, who 
was many miles away; and on another occasion, I saw in a patient 
who was introduced into the common room in the summer, an old 
school-fellow so like him, that I called out his name in surprise; 
when the vision changed, and I saw him walking in other features, 
and then again in new ones. 

In the midst of all this confusion of triple or quadruple persons 
in one and the same individual, and of my understanding, that 
according as my spirits warned me, I was either on earth as it was 
when I left it, or in heaven, or in an intermediate state of felicity, 
I was desired to act and to do my duty, and accused of guilt in pre- 



74 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

tending not to know what was my duty, and resisting the desire 
of the Lord to learn of my spirits. I might well be puzzled. I might 
well have been puzzled, setting aside that delusion. For it might 
be a trial for a very wise man to act discreetly on being ushered by 
violence or guile, into a room full of gentlemen who spoke nothing, 
did nothing, or muttered a few half sentences to him without 
being informed of the nature of his company and of his position 
amongst them. I had no introduction, no explanation, no reason 
assigned me for my position; lunatic, imbecile, childish, deluded, 
I was left to divine every thing. Precisely that conduct likeliest to 
aid deception of the mind, to encourage and to make it perpetual, 
was pursued towards me, and is now being pursued towards those 
wretched companions I have left behind me, and to tens of thou- 
sands in a similar state. 

My earnest desire, my intense inward prayer to the Deity whom 
I imagined conversing in me, was, "Oh! take me home, Oh! take 

me to E g [Baling]. I shall never know what I am to do here; 

all is so new, so strange, so perplexing. If I were one fortnight, 

one week, three days in the library at E , left to myself, I should 

know how I was to act what I was to do." My brothers, my sisters, 
and my mother were always in my thoughts; my constant longing 
was to be with them. Nearly all I did that was extravagant, nearly 
all the voluntary suffering I brought on myself was with a view to 
my finding myself miraculously amongst them, or them about me. 



CHAPTER XV 



A MORNING or two after my removal to the lunatics' common 
room, I was dressed and taken down there to breakfast, and this 
was continued until the beginning of the next year, when I had 
recovered my sense enough to insist on treatment more becoming 
my wants, character, habits, and rank in society. I came down with 
my attendant between half-past six and half-past seven o'clock* 
The breakfast was usually placed on the table about eight. The 
tea was poured out of two large beer cans into slop basins, and a 
plate of bread and butter placed by each basin. There was seldom 
any complaint from the patients, excepting poor Patience. He 
always complained, in broken and rather violent sentences, not 
addressed to any one particularly, of the thickness of the slices. 
And I observed there was always placed on his plate one slice, 
twice the thickness of all the rest My spirits assured me I was 
brought down stairs to show contempt of me, and to punish me 
for my continued disobedience; or for some particular act of rebel- 
lion in the eating of my breakfast up stairs. I never made any re- 
monstrance against this or any treatment, however bad; so fully 
was I persuaded that the persons around me acted from inspiration, 
and that my Saviour in Herminet Herbert directed every regula- 
tion, however severely, from necessity, and to my ultimate benefit. 

Immediately on being brought down stairs, I was taken to my 
niche, seated down, and fastened into it by a strap with a small 
padlock, that ran through a ring in the wall, which ring could be 
turned round. My tea was placed before me, at breakfast time, in 
a slop basin, on a small deal table, with a plate of bread and butter. 



76 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

And usually one hand was loosened from the straight waistcoat; 
at times I was fed by the hand. It was always a great delight to me 
to get my hand at liberty, even for a moment, and the first use I 
usually made of it was to strike the keeper who untied me; directed 
by my spirits to do so, as the return he desired above all things 
else; because he knew I was proving my gratitude to the Lord Je- 
hovah, at the risk of being struck myself. My blows were usually 
received in good humour. The same mysterious directions came 
to me at breakfast here, but my confusion was greater, and my 
humour to delude my spirits more strong. I disobeyed and de- 
ceived every voice; although told that I polluted my spirits by so 
doing. The voice which kept control over me the longest was that 
of my deceased sister, excepting only the voices of him whom I 
deemed the Lord Jehovah. At last, I disobeyed and mocked at 
even that voice; and then I became nearly reckless about obeying 
any or not; only being excited to try again and again to reconcile 
their directions by pathetic appeals, remonstrances, threats, awak- 
enings of compunction and of remorse. 

I disobeyed these voices, although at the time threatened with 
terrible consequences, and aware of the dreadful terrors of mind 
I should go through attended with accusations of impatience and 
ingratitude, when my meal was over, and my humour indulged. 
For instance, when a few weeks later they used to take me to the 
bath after breakfast, the spirits called to my mind their horrid 
threats in Dublin, and bade me understand that this was the bath 
of boiling water, in which I was to be plunged for all eternity; I 
was threatened with finding it so, if I did not obey my spirits, or 
before I descended to it, reconcile them to me, by suffering some- 
thing for their sakes. Two or three circumstances led to a con- 
firmation of this delusion. In the first place, the bath was in 
gloomy rooms like cellars. In one room, in which I was usually 
dressed and undressed, there was no window at all, and the walls 
bare; in the other two, the light came from small windows at the 
top of the wall. We passed along passages to get to them, in which 
I saw large iron pipes, like the apparatus of steam-engines; and 
these I was told were to convey the hot water to the bath. I was 
occasionally seized hand and foot by two men, and thrown sud- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 77 

denly backwards into the bath: and I did not know what need 
there was for violence, for I never hesitated to enter it. On one 
occasion, Simplicity stretched out an iron bar to duck my head 
under the water by pressing it upon my neck; for the men seemed 
to think it an essential part of their extraordinary quackery, to 
have the head well soused. After ducking my head, he held the 
bar out to me in sport, and I seized hold of it, and found it quite 
warm, as if just taken from a fire. I attribute this now to the 
extreme coldness of my body in the water; for often, for half an 
hour after I came from the bath, I shook and shuddered, and my 
teeth chattered with cold; on these occasions I was usually fas- 
tened for a time alone in a large wicker chair, in the parlour I had 
originally been confined to. But at the time, I conceived the heat 
of the bar to be a proof to me accorded in mercy of what my spirits 
told me; that I was really in the bath of boiling water, concealed 
from me by their agency, but ready, on my provoking the Lord 
beyond redemption, to be instantaneously revealed to me. On 
another occasion, I entered the bath room after some other pa- 
tients, when Herminet Herbert showed me a leather mask, which 
in sport he offered to put on me, and asked how I should like to go 
into the bath with it? Now my spirits had threatened me with 
being plunged in, after having ray face covered with a pitch plas- 
ter. So these trifling incidents aided my delusions. 

I may add here, that ere I had been plunged in the cold bath 
myself, which was not for at least a week after my arrival, I was 
threatened with it by my persecutors, and I used to see the patients 
called out one after the other, when my spirits always informed 
me, and indeed on any extraordinary occasion, "Mr. Fitzherbert 
is gone for you " or, "Mr. Simplicity is suffering for you." I was, 
in short, made accountable for every event around me, and con- 
tinually appealed to, "will you suffer nothing for us, when we are 
suffering for you, in all those around you things you ought to 
suffer?" I understood then that all these gentlemen went and en- 
dured the horrors of the bath of boiling water for me, rather than 
that I should undergo it in a state unable to endure it to God's 
glory and to my own salvation. My attendant came up to me 
one day, and said to me some confusion having arisen "you 



78 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

seem to be at the bottom of all that's going on here; what was it? 
you seem to understand all these things." On another day, when 
Herminet Herbert was going up stairs, and I was fastened in one 
of the niches, an old patient said to me, "there's your Saviour 
going up stairs; what! will you not go after him?" All these obser- 
vations corroborated my delusions. I was told I had miraculous 
power to burst my manacles, but that I would not use it. One 
afternoon, when all were gone out walking, and I was left strapped 
up alone, my spirits told me power was given me to open my pad- 
lock, and be at liberty. I tried, and I did open the padlock, and 
was at liberty some time; till on their return, Herminet Herbert 
found me, and expressed his surprise, "How came you loose?" and 
locked me up again. 

I may also add, that on one occasion, when I went to the bath, 
Herminet Herbert asked a man who was there whom I after- 
wards, if I am not wrong, found out to be a bricklayer (one of the 
baths there appeared to be undergoing repairs) to help him to 
throw me into the water. We had come down stairs alone. Usually, 
the hulking fellow I called the Holy Ghost, or Kill-all, came to my 
bed-side, about half-past six in the morning, to help to take me 
down, for I almost invariably resisted going down, not from my 
own notion, but by the command of my spirits, as doing the thing 
most agreeable to the attendants. I was told that this man was 
another personification of the Holy Ghost, and another Kill-all. 
For that as Diana was worshipped in two forms, as DIANA and 
HECATE, so the Holy Ghost was the destroyer of those in hell. I 
saw this man, one day, in the passage, and his face was for a mo- 
ment of a preternatural red or flame colour. He was at that time 
at work in a cellar opening in the front of the house, where I was 
made to believe that a cold bath was being prepared for me, into 
which I was to be plunged and immured in the dark; and to be 
always sinking and drowning to all eternity. I used to long to look 
down that cellar to see if it was true that preparations were really 
going on for a bath, but I never had an opportunity. 

And there was, I must admit, also a singular coincidence be- 
tween the state of mind, and trifling actions of those around, and 
the events that my spirits forewarned me of, or threatened me 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 79 

with, during the day. If, for instance, Mr. Fitzherbert, my spirit 
of family pride, who was pointed out to me as my guide came 
down with his shoes on, instead of looking for them in the room, 
or hung up his hat, my voices told me to augur such and such 
things during the day, which usually proved true. 



CHAPTER XVI 



IN the morning, after the breakfast things were removed, it 
was a natural thought to any mind to ask "what shall I do?" How 
to answer this, in a situation like that of the unfortunate gentle- 
men in that room whose limbs were at liberty, was difficult enough. 
There were three books, but what were they among so many? oc- 
casionally one or two newspapers, besides this a draft-board and 
a pack of cards. Soon after, the books were reduced to the Bible, 
and then that disappeared. But that which was a natural thought 
to others, was to me a question addressed to invisible guides, and 
rendered more difficult to answer, inasmuch as I was confined to 
my wooden seat, and often with my arms manacled. My voices 
first told me to speak to each Herminet Herbert as he came into 
the room. What was I to say? "Herminet Herbert, will you take 
me to my mother's room up stairs?" "Herminet Herbert, will you 
take me to my mother's room down stairs?" Though I shrunk 
from saying these things, yet I obeyed these voices. No attention 
whatever was paid to me. I asked my spirits how my mother could 
have a room in that house? Afterwards two or three housekeepers 
in the madhouse were pointed out to me as my mother; I replied, 
I could not recognize her; I was answered, because I would not. 
I remarked how could she be so poor, and performing the offices 
of a menial? I was answered, that as part of the calamities and 
curses brought on my nation by the Almighty in consequence of 
my sins, a general bankruptcy had ruined the state and my family; 
that nevertheless the love of my family was such, that they had 
come to wait on me as servants of Dr. F. [Fox], rather than abandon 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 81 

me. Poor things, they never came near me I How often did I 
struggle with my attendants, and provoke their violence to get to 
one or other of these rooms, imagining that my mother and sisters 
were waiting there to receive me, and that all that was required 
of me was to grapple with my antagonist, sincerely resolved to en- 
dure the extreme of his anger rather than shrink from doing what 
was enjoined on me. After I found that my addresses were of no 
avail, and I got tired of repeating the same words, I again asked 
for direction. I was desired then to address the old man opposite 
me, and to confess my sins in Portugal to him, as to my Father Con- 
fessor. I called to him, but received no reply; again I was directed 
to address the patients around me: another time to say, Herminet 

Herbert, will you take me to the w closet. I suffered acutely 

in doing this, particularly before all the bystanders: but I yielded* 
After some time, I was attended to, and taken up stairs. Here I 
was usually conducted by him I called Simplicity, and God Al- 
mighty: I was assailed by new delusions. I used to rise from the 
seat and throw myself forward, flat on my face, through the door, 
to fall at the feet of this individual and worship him. The door 
opened outwards, and I had my arms usually fastened round my 
waist. I therefore ran considerable risk of hurting myself, besides 
the punishment of this stout fellow. This extraordinary conduct 
was suggested to me in this manner. Although I was in the house 
of Dr. F. an old friend of my father's, upon earth, I was at the 
same time present in heavenly places: and capable of being con- 
scious of both states of existence, and of directing my conduct in 
each, in rapidly succeeding intervals of time, according to what 
was passing round me in each. But the exercise of faith was re- 
quired of me, and one great trial of that faith was to see the doors, 
walls, and persons round me as on earth. To cast myself prostrate 
before God Almighty in heavenly places was a reasonable act: to 
cast myself prostrate in a straight waistcoat, through the door of 
the closet, at the feet of a servant was not a reasonable act, and a 
dangerous one to boot. The apparent danger and reasonableness 
were the trial of my faith: and if I flung myself forward bodily, 
which through fear I seldom or ever succeeded in doing, exactly 
at the word of the Spirit sent to give me the time; I should find 



82 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

there was no door, no walls, no servant, no obstacle; but that I 
was verily in the presence of the saints, at the feet o Jehovah. I 
met, however, with nothing but severe falls and blows on my face 
and arms from the door, and rough handling from my attendant; 
who threw me back violently on the seat, and when there struck 
me in the abdomen, and then pitched into my face. My arms 
being tied, I used to turn my head to the right, and the blows fell 
on my left ear. This powerful man often struck me with great 
ferocity and spite: like one not contented with his situation, or 
perplexed by conduct unintelligible, which teazed him, whether 
designed or not. He was, however, generally good-humoured, and 
civil in his demeanour. Unfortunately, his punishment was of no 
use to me. I understood that I was punished for feigning, not for 
my act of faith, and the blows were another chance for my being 
at last miraculously at home, or in heavenly places. They only 
tended to disturb the equanimity of my mind in attempting to 
perform the duties required of me by my spiritual Mentors. Re- 
ceiving their voices as the commands of my God, nothing could 
prevent me attempting to obey those commands, however absurd 
they might appear to myself or others, or dangerous to myself. 
The awful impression of dread produced by preternatural men- 
aces; the compunction I felt for former acts of ingratitude; the 
appeals to my attachment, sense of honour, sense of duty, made by 
my spirits; the hope of redeeming millions of souls by one act of 
obedience, and of standing in the presence of Jesus and his Father, 
were too strong for me to resist. Experience alone of the falsehood 
of the promises could succeed in making me relinquish altogether 
my attempt; and that experience was long in coming, for fear or 
embarrassment continually made me prevent or lag behind the 
instant of execution; and then the failure of effect was attributed 
to my not acting with "precision and decision." 

Returning to the common room, I always attempted to wrestle 
with, or asked one of the patients to wrestle with me, I was then 
locked into my seat. If my arms were at liberty, I would occasion- 
ally seize one or two of the patients to wrestle with me as they 
passed by me. I had no malicious motive; I did it in obedience to 
inspiration, and imagined they were inspired to know what I was 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 83 

commanded, how J obeyed, and how to act in consequence. My 
attempts at wrestling were however inculcated by the spirits on 
more practical grounds than ordinary. They told me that it was 
necessary "for the keeping me in a right state of mind," in other 
words, "to keep my head to my heart, and my heart to my head;" 
that I should be suffocated, or strangled, or violently exercised, 
or at least perform one act of obedience to the Lord Jehovah su- 
premely Omnipotent, in a certain rhyme or measure once or twice 
through the day; that without that my head wandered from my 
heart, and my heart turned from my head all through the day, 
which was the cause of my being in a wrong state of mind; by which 
expression I did not then understand lunacy. I used to ask several 
individuals to wrestle with me, with a view to their giving me 
violent usage, a severe fall and the like, and with the secret hope 
that during the wrestling, one or other of them would strangle me 
or cause me to suffocate. I always seized the strongest men, and 
it is a singular fact, whilst I compelled the other keepers to struggle 
with me, I never did more than lay hold of the waistcoat of him I 
called Jesus, the weakest, unless when I was struggling with three 
at a time. The men usually held my arms, joked with me, begged 
me to be quiet, and used no more violence than was requisite to 
overcome me. Therefore I did not get what I wanted, until the 
autumn, when one day seizing Sincerity to wrestle with him, he 
gave me a tremendous fall that shook my whole frame. I knew 
then I had done my duty, and finding myself no more in heavenly 
places than I was at the beginning, not a whit more capable of 
understanding my position, I desisted from any further attempts 
of that kind. 

But before I received this fall I was made to fancy that my 
insincerity prevented the man from dealing with me as God in- 
tended; that they knew I was shuffling; that I did not exert half 
the force I had; yet at the end of the year Samuel Poole reminded 
me saying, "how you used to make us sweat!" for three keepers 
usually came to compel me to go to the cold bath, which to me 
was a mystery, because I was not aware force was required to take 
me there, and I was told I might go to the bath with Simplicity, 
or Sincerity, or Herminet Herbert, according to my conduct But 



84 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

in reality it was, I concluded, a display of force to intimidate; in 
which it failed through my delusions, for it provoked my efforts. 
But it answered another purpose, that my foolish opposition did 
not meet with such cruel violence as the spite or fears of a weaker 
party might have inflicted on me. Sometimes I was carried along 
in sport neck and crop; but usually I did not meet, on these oc- 
casions, except from single hands, with ruder treatment than 
might be expected from three country fellows overcoming resist- 
ance: on one occasion only I recollect a stick being brought out to 
beat me, but I do not recollect its being used. I am not sure. 

When consigned to my seat, it became again a question how I 
was to employ myself. I felt in this position a sense of suffocation, 
which together with former delusions, suggested to me the idea 
of suffocating myself by pressing my nostrils against a wooden 
projection in the wall serving as an arm to the seat. This in fact 
was my chief occupation all the day long, occasionally varied by my 
attempting to twist my neck, standing up as well as I could and 
leaning on the back of my head, the face turned upwards against 
the wall, and then turning my body as on a pivot from side to 
side. Occasionally an old patient put a newspaper on my knees to 
read, and Henninet Herbert once or twice gave me one of the 
registers. Sometimes my hands were untied for a short time to read 
them. In the morning, and always in the afternoon, certain of 
the patients smoked and sat down with the servants to a game at 
whist. Scarcely a word was spoken except in broken sentences, or 
by the servants, which added to the apparent mystery of my situ- 
ation. Once a day usually, one or more of Dr. F/s [Fox's] sons came 
into the room and staid five or ten minutes, he addressed one or 
two patients, and occasionally said a few words to me; but always 
with a half and half manner of speech and deportment, which 
added to the conviction I was under, that they too came for a 
mysterious purpose. Occasionally they smoked a cigar in the room, 
and played a game at cards. I was told that one of these gentlemen 
was my brother D., and his name Sincerity and Contrition; the 
other, my brother H., and his name Joviality; he was an amiable 
good-looking fellow; the other, melancholy, and besotted. I oc- 
casionally asked these and other well dressed men to wrestle with 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 85 

me, but I did not attempt to force them, in spite of my spirits, for 
they were too well dressed, too decent, too childish. Generally 
every Sunday morning about ten o'clock, Dr. F., the father of these 
young men, tottered in, a grey-headed firm-charactered old man, 
of short stature, with a blue frock coat on, broad brimmed hat, and 
long cane. But to me all was delusion; I thought him a spiritual 
being; I called him my father. 

About 1 1 o'clock every day, the patients were taken out walk- 
ing, if the weather was fine, and I went out for an hour with Her- 
minet Herbert, or was left tied up alone. Dinner came at one; in 
the afternoon the patients again went out for a walk, came home 
about four, went into the yard or sat down in the room till seven, 
when tea was brought and served as the breakfast; after which, 
they were taken or went alone upstairs to bed. Besides this, during 
the day they were occasionally taken out one by one, either to the 
bath or to be shaved, but I then understood when they went out 
singly, they went either to suffer, or to supplicate forme; when they 
went out together, they went as a court of justice to consult on 
my case. 

When I was first fastened in my niche, my feet were at liberty, 
but afterwards they also were fastened by leathern sockets to a 
ring in the floor. There were two or three reasons for this, or 
rather causes; for had my treatment been reasonable there would 
I conceive have been little reason for any personal confinement 
at all. I imagine now that I was unwittingly the servant of a 
spirit employed to mock at all the conceits of a presumptuous 
charlatan and his careless servants, for controlling, overcoming, or 
managing the human mind; which spirit did at the same time 
work to my punishment and degradation. When I was fastened 
down, for example, in the niche with my hands secured round my 
waist and my body girt with a leathern belt to the wall, my spirits 
guided me to turn completely round heels over head, so that my 
neck came against the seat, my feet reached the arch of the niche, 
and, raised up on one side, came down on the other. It is aston- 
ishing I never hurt myself. They cut off this strange amusement 
by fastening my feet to the floor. I used also after dinner and 
breakfast to kick over the table with the plate at times on it, and 



86 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

when my feet were fastened I used to lean down and do this with 
my mouth; sometimes I succeeded, sometimes I did not, but my 
aim was to do it in "precision and decision" and I did not care 
how many blows I received, though I feared them, if they would 
give me only three in precision and decision. I was often struck, 
but usually only two blows at a time; Simplicity struck me most. 
At last, towards the end of six months, I got three blows and three 
sharp raps from a spoon, from Henninet Herbert, in the time or 
measure I conceived was required, and finding myself still in the 
same situation in mind and body, I did not attempt any thing, 
merely to seek their blows, any longer. I used also to try and drag 
things to me with my feet, sometimes to fling my shoes off into the 
room, &c. &c, and I would actually wait in silent faith and prayer 
for the shoe to come back to me. 

This was my position in this room for about three months; 
after that, I was removed to the niche in the wall opposite to the 
fire-place, and continued confined there till late in the cricketting 
season, after hay making. 

About three days after I was left by my brother, I was taken 
out for my first walk by Henninet Herbert. The snowdrop was 
just piercing the ground, and from that I judged afterwards I had 
been brought there towards the middle of January, for I had no 
means of calculating time, but by the seasons, and when by chance 
I got a newspaper: until in the autumn, coming to my senses, I 
asked for a pocket-book. I walked about Dr. F.'s grounds and 
plantations, crying out at every carriage I saw, that it was my 
mother's; to every young female that she was one of my sisters, 
and calling aloud by inspiration, "I am the lost hope of a noble 
family I am ruined! I'm ruinedl I'm lost! I'm undone! but I 
AM the redeemed of the redeemed of the Lord; I AM the redeemed 
of the Lord Jehovah supremely omnipotent, and of the Lord Je- 
hovah Gireth, and of the Lord Jehovah, fee. &c. &c. who is true to 
his word, and his saints love it well;" which last words also came 
to me in Dublin. 

The above sentences were given to me to repeat, laying a 
stress on the word "am," of which sentences I now see the beauty 
and the connexion, though then I cried each out separately, timid- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 87 

ly, and undecidedly. The keeper who attended me occasionally 
rebuked me, ridiculed me, shook me, or struck me with his walking 
stick. Very often we walked out in the fields, and to farm-houses 
in the neighbourhood, when I used to fall down on my knees be- 
fore this man, and call him Jesus. I had on, generally, a great coat 
over a straight waistcoat; so that at any moment my arms might 
be fastened. I walked usually for one hour before dinner, some- 
tunes for an hour after dinner. After some time, I accompanied 
the other patients, who walked out in a body, with two or three 
keepers, and we went through the villages: here, as before, I cried 
out aloud, though not so often; and I did not desist from this for 
a long time. I recollect on one occasion, I ran away in the grounds 
from the keeper, who had desired me to keep by his side. He 
caught me by an iron fence in the grounds, and with great violence 
doubled me over it. On another occasion, looking up into the 
sky, I saw a vision of the Lord descending with the angels and 
saints. Several times, the sounds of the cattle lowing, or asses 
braying, in the fields, conveyed to me articulate words and sen- 
tences, as to Balaam. I was often made a joke of in good humour 
by the keepers, on account of my delusions, and this added to their 
strength, for I took seriously what they said in jest. For instance, 
one said to me, "there's your father, go and run after him, and 
take him by his arm," pointing to a patient I took for my father; 
another, whom I called Scott, but whose name was Marshall, re- 
plied one day, "I am called Scott in good company;" another walk- 
ing behind my back, with an open knife, pricked me slightly on 
the shoulder-blade: I then had the most horrible ideas that I was 
to be crucified in a number of bodies in all parts of the world, to 
be flayed alive, fee. &c., and imagined that my doom was put off 
only from day to day: each time I came home to dinner I fancied 
was the last. This slight action of the keeper confirmed me in my 
horrid suspicions. Another delusion I laboured under was, that 
I should keep my head and heart together, and so serve the Lord, 
by throwing myself head over heels over every stile or gate I came 
to; the condition here was as before, on its being done in precision 
and decision. I often attempted and failed, getting smart strokes 
from the cane of Herminet Herbert I knew it was dangerous, but 



88 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

I expected to be miraculously preserved if I did it aright. At last 
I did it outright, and my head struck upon a stone, on the other 
side. The blow stupified me: finding no advantage, I did not at- 
tempt it heartily again. On returning home, I was fastened in the 
niche, and remained there till bed-time. 

Nobody can bear this continual turning of the mind from 
one subject to another; but I am not able to collect my ideas on 
these sufferings, so as to write orderly. I should add that I received 
the blows of Herminet Herbert patiently and without reply; first, 
being too much occupied by the agonies of my mind; secondly, 
conceiving that he was acting a part which he was compelled to 
do, to punish my insincerity and affectation; for that I was struck, 
not for attempting, but because I did not accomplish the object of 
throwing myself over the stile through disobedience. I mention 
such delusions, as appear to me necessary to make my reader clear- 
ly understand the nature of my disorder, the state of my mind and 
disposition which I was in, and the impropriety of the conduct 
pursued towards me. To this end it appears I must still mention 
two other delusions connected one with the other. Soon after my 
arrival from Bristol I was told, by my invisible companions, that 
I was not the son of my reputed mother, but that my father had 
adopted me from my infancy. That my real name was Robinson. 
That my father and mother were Americans, from Boston. That 
my father had died long ago, but that my real mother, Mrs. Robin- 
son, was still living at Bristol. I had known this until about eight 
or nine years of age, and my reputed father had adopted me, be- 
ause he knew very well, I was ordained to be a herald of the 

3nd coming of the Lord, from my conception. And as the Al- 

ghty, in the shape of Mr. Waldony, had always walked on earth 
pith my reputed father, in love, in gratitude, and in obedience to 

a, he had adopted me. I, too, had known this, until by one 
Ifirime at an early age, my heart had been turned from God; after 
! Which, I had walked in darkness. At the same time, I had resolved 
$o deny my father and mother, and would not allow any person 
to allude to the fact of my adoption. My reason and judgment 
fcbecked me in believing this strange tale, but I bowed my reason 
;to the authority of the inspirationl 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 89 

specially brought there to be tried if compunction would then 
make me call for my mother, Dame Robinson; and that she had 
even entered my room, in hopes of being reconciled. That had I 
shown even that gratitude towards her and towards the Almighty, 
I should have been spared many torments; but that when my 
countrymen saw I was so ungrateful, they had prayed for and 
determined on an increase of my tortures. I was already to be 
crucified for my blasphemies in Dublin, but now I was to be cruci- 
fied, and "licked, and hacked, and manacled, and brewed in a 
manner most distressing" all over the world, in various bodies, and 
kept alive during my tortures. I objected, that the king of England 
could only hang me, but I was replied to, "that the king and par- 
liament had passed an act for my especial punishment, in obedi- 
ence to the commands of the Almighty, when he had come upon 
the earth." I imagined at one time, that my eldest sister, who had 
been raised from the dead, had undertaken to endure these tor- 
tures for me. Sometimes I fancied she was being flayed alive in 
the room down stairs, to which I strove to make my way; some- 
times that she was being mangled in the garden, outside our prison 
room; and I used to strain my neck from my seat to look through 
the window to ascertain the truth. About this time, also, a packet 
was lost off the Welsh coast, and all the passengers were drowned. 
Much talking there was about it, and I was made in my imagina- 
tion responsible for their loss; all was done for me. At night and by 
day I heard their groans; and on one occasion, when I understood 
I had done an act of obedience, there was a burst of angel voices, 
in the ceiling on the left, singing out, "Victoria, Victoria! the vic- 
tory's won." I knew about as much what victory was alluded to, 
as what sins I was accused of. 

I recollect, a short time before the burning of the gaols in 
Bristol, in a letter I wrote to my mother, I asked her if I was really 
her son, and if I had ever had a master called Waldony. I was 
then gradually returning to my senses. My mother sent me a cer- 
tificate of my baptism, in Lincoln's Inn fields, and shortly after, 
one of my brothers saw me, and reminded me of the real name of 
our writing-master when boys, and confirmed the suspicions I then 
had of my having been deluded. My mind, however, needed these 
circumstantial evidences, to be corrected entirely of its errors. 



CHAPTER XVII 



WHEN I was taken to bed at first, I was only confined in my 
straight waistcoat. The first night there was a fire in my room, 
which I missed the second or third night, and I was made to sup- 
pose I had been deprived of it for not performing some act of 
obedience. A few nights after my arrival, I threw myself off the 
bed, in my waistcoat on the floor, in obedience to my monitors; 
the command was usually given about the time the keeper came 
into the room either to look after me, or to sleep; fortunately I 
did not injure my limbs. In consequence of this trick, my arms 
were tied down to each side of the bed, by bands of ticking. Still 
I contrived to excite alarm, and subsequently my feet were fas- 
tened to the bottom of the bed, in the leathern anklets I had on in 
the day time. Fastened thus, lying on my back, I passed my wretch- 
ed sleepless nights for nearly, if not quite, nine months! Recollect, 
too, that I was a nervous patientl I had not exercise enough during 
the day to procure sleep. But I lay exhausted, wearied, agonied, 
terrified in my spirits, hungering after rest, but unable to procure 
it To add to my feverishness and misery, the servant usually tied 
my right arm so tight, passing the thong twice round it, that it cut 
my flesh, causing a red ring round the arm in the morning. 

I never complained; the voices told me it was Jesus who did it, 
and that he did it for my good, to prevent me going to sleep, be- 
cause sleep would torpify me, and as I was a spiritual body, I did 
not need sleep. Sometimes, however, by order of the voices, I 
asked the servant when he came to bed to undo my right arm; 
which was occasionally done. In the coldest nights I used to kick 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 91 

off, or throw off with my teeth the clothes, yet I never felt cold. 

This restraint was kept on a great while longer than was neces- 
sary. A lunatic doctor, in one sense, is pretty sure to be on the 
right side; he will run no risk that will do his reputation for se- 
curity, an injury. When I began to come to my senses, and to feel 
indignation at the treatment I had been exposed to, the voices 
and my wishes dictated to me to ask to have the waistcoat taken 
off in bed, and I fancied one day, that I was invited to make this 
demand by young Dr. F. who stopped me, and the keeper, Samuel 
Hobbs, on going out of the madhouse to walk, asking if I could 
not be allowed to sleep unfastened now. The keeper replied, in 
an offhand impertinent manner, "OI no, sir there's no trusting 
him," fee. fee. fee, and I remained silent from resentment. 

After I was in bed, from about eight to ten o'clock, when the 
keeper came up, I very often used to shout out aloud, or sing the 
psalm, "O be joyful," in obedience to the demon's commands. 
Then Simplicity would come up, and with his open hand strike me 
on the face most cruelly all I could do, tied hand and foot, was 
to turn my face to the wall, to avoid being struck in the eye, or on 
the nose. His blows fell on my left ear, as below stairs, and to 
these blows I attribute the disfigurement of my left ear, which 
afterwards swelled to a great size with extravasated blood. It was 
cut open by the surgeon who attended the patients in the asylum, 

Dr. L . It is true, Dr. F. told my mother it was occasioned by 

violence I did my own person, in striking my ear, but I do not 
recollect striking my ear, but I recollect very well I used to strike 
the side of my head in front of the ear, where the organ of secrecy 
is placed, under an idea that my blows would strike out the secrets 
of my conscience and memory to me; and after my ear became bad, 
and particularly after the operation, I tried by squeezing it against 
the wall, to burst the blood out, which was called "breaking my 
ear to my father." I imagined also, that the blood in my ear was 
caused by the lachrymatory duct being full of tears of blood, which 
I would not weep; and other absurdities. 



CHAPTER XVIII 



THERE were, however, other serious inconveniences attendant 
upon my confinement in bed, of which I fear I now feel the effects: 
viz: the retention of my urine. My honest doctor never thought 
of that, no doubt. I cannot express myself becomingly on matters 
of this kind. My excited feelings prompt me to use expressions of 
sarcasm and indignation: but again, ridicule overpowers me for 
I say why? why? remonstrate upon any one isolated act, when 
the whole system, admitted by, and finding society fellow-workers 
with it, is grossly disgraceful to men of science, to men of education, 
to men of humanity, to men of religion, contradictory even of the 
principles of that tangible science, surgery; not to say medicine, of 
which Dr. F. and many more too like him, are professors and prac- 
titioners! But such men, surgeons, and yet acting inhumanly in 
defiance even of that sure science, ought to know that it is no 
small duty of the curer of nervous patients, to have regard to the 
regularity of their evacuations. And there is no point for which 
they more require what liberty can be granted them. There is a 
moment, beyond which the retention of urine becomes very dele- 
terious to the circulating fluids, and affects the nervous system 
with acute pains. I knew nothing of this then; I have observed it 
subsequently. For the agonies of my mind were too great for me 
to heed bodily suffering. 

Connected with this subject, I have to relate conduct towards 
me of the most indelicate and insulting nature. I do not recollect 
during the first months of my confinement any attention to me in 
this particular, volunteered on the part of those whose duty it was 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 93 

to think for me. I myself first asked to be taken up stairs, in obedi- 
ence to inspiration. My mind has always been extremely sensi- 
tive and delicate on this subject, and it was with much difficulty 
and dislike that I obeyed the command given to me, in the pres- 
ence of the other patients. After my daily visit to this place, I do 
not recollect any opportunity being offered me of discharging my 
urine, during the day, so long as I was confined to my seat, except 
in the morning, when I went out walking, and if I went out in the 
afternoon; but I do not remember that I made use of these op- 
portunities. Sometimes, indeed, I refused to follow nature, under- 
standing that being no longer a natural but a spiritual body, these 
things were no longer necessary, but on the contrary, injurious 
to me. 

It happened however towards June, or July, that I was unable 
to contain my urine whilst in bed two mornings successively, over- 
come by fear whilst waiting for my keepers, who came to take me 
to the cold bath in reality, but as I imagined to my eternal doom. 
I used to lie in agony of fear, crying out to my different spiritual 
companions, "Herminet Herbert come to my room and save me 
from my melancholy doom and destiny," "Mr. Simplicity come 
to my room, &c. &c.," "Kill-all, Kill-all, come to my room, &c., See.;" 
and I used to augur for my fate according to who presented him- 
self. I recollect now a sensation of fear, a sense of cruelty which 
I cannot yet define as the men came up stairs and entered my room 
to untie me. Their footsteps talked to me as they came up stairs, 
the breathing of their nostrils over me as they unfastened me, 
whispered threatenings; a machine I used to hear at work pump- 
ing, spoke horrors; besides this, there were some ducks and chick- 
ens came to be fed before the window; a breakfast bell rung, and I 
heard a piano down stairs: all these circumstances reminded me 
forcibly of my boyhood, and I think my mind was afflicted with 
speechless agony, at the comparison of my actual state with that 
of my infancy, childhood, and youth; to have been so loved, or so 
duped by the appearance of my family's love, and to be so aban- 
doned in the greatest woe, under the most awful state of mis- 
fortune. But I accused myself of all, and chiefly for bringing dis- 
credit upon the new doctrines of the Rowites, on my own sincerity 



94 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

as a professor of religion, &c., thereby endangering the salvation 
of those dearest me, by alienating their affections from, and shak- 
ing to their confidence in, the truth. The dinner bell used to ring 

to me many changes. "This is Mr. 's dinner bell at E [Eal- 

ing], if he will be obedient to a spirit of precision and decision, 
or, if he will do his duty and not have his greed taken away from 
him," or "take the young hyprocrite to his mother's bed-room at 
E , or to his sister's schoolroom at E , &c." 

To return, one or two mornings whilst listening to all these 
preternatural intimidations, and misinterpreting them, my fears 
or my necessity compelled me to make water in my bed. A night 
or two after this I was taken down to sleep in a kind of outhouse. 
At the back of Dr. F.'s madhouse at the bottom of all the small 
yards or gardens that lay on the slope of the hill behind the differ- 
ent wards, a range of low buildings extended along the whole 
of that side of the mansion excepting the laundry. These build- 
ings contained in each ward, three or four cells with bare walls, 
lighted by a small skylight from the top, with a channelled and 
sloping wooden frame for a bed, furnished with straps, chains, &c. 
I imagined this to be an instrument of torture. There was a narrow 
dark passage between the cells and the yard, and they were built 
against Dr. F.'s kitchen garden wall, which was warmed by flues. 
The kitchen garden lay behind the madhouse; the hot-houses 
nearly in the centre. There was a small yard at the end of the four 
cells in our section with a door leading into the kitchen garden, 
and in the right hand corner near that door a privy. 

I was taken to bed in the innermost cell, the fourth in the row. 
There was a mattress of straw, and a pillow of straw, both stinking 
of the cow-yard, on which I was laid. I was then strapped down 
with a broad strap over my chest, and my right arm was manacled 
to a chain in the wall. No explanation of any kind was made to 
me, and I was left alone to my own meditations. 

For myself, I submitted to every thing with passive resignation, 
and like a child. I conceived myself in circumstances hopelessly 
beyond my control; the object of the direct and personal super- 
intendence of the Almighty. I did not understand, and it was 
useless to remonstrate; but my attendant voices suggested to me 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 95 

two or three reasons for my being thus degraded; either because 
I had eaten my breakfast instead of refusing it; or had not struck 
or wrestled with my keepers, or thrown them into the bath, when 
ordered to do so. The real reason was never clearly assigned to 
me, but I conjecture it was the design to punish me for the infirmity 
I have just alluded to; a design as foolish as it was insolent and 
unjust. Foolish, because no explanation was given to me, no ex- 
postulation, and I was left a lunatic to my lunatic imagination to 
supply me with a reason, if I reasoned at all. Foolish, because even 
if an explanation had been offered, it is doubtful then if I should 
have believed that, instead of the wild suggestions of my inspirers; 
therefore foolish and cruel, because as a correction it was of no 
use; and had I had strength of mind just sufficient to understand 
it as a correction, ten to one that I should have resented it by re- 
peating the offence fifty times, rather than not show my hatred 
and contempt of their malice. Insolent it was, because no man has 
a right in a matter of this kind to deal thus with his equal or even 
with a child, far less a set of ignorant empirics and their tools. 
Degraded it is true by a signal calamity, but yet their superior in 
rank and education, and entitled to respect even for the greatness 
of this misfortune, and to forbearance, for his infirmities. Unjust 
it was, for it was not marvellous that I had been twice subject to 
this inability of retention, but rather a marvel that I had not 
already often been so subject from their neglect. 

About two or three hours after my being put to bed here, one 
of the keepers, Herminet Herbert the simple, or Herminet Her- 
bert, Simplicity, came to attend to my bodily requirements in this 
respect, and then left me for the night. 

Strange as it may appear, I felt happy in this situation. Here 
there was comparative peace, seclusion, freedom from intrusion. 
Here I had no servant sleeping in the room with me. Here I 
might hollo or sing as my spirits commanded, without fear of 
rating and beating, and although my right arm was fastened by a 
short chain to the wall and the strap pressed rather tightly across 
my chest, it was still something to have one arm free even in the 
straight waistcoat, and not to be galled by the fastening on the 
other. At first I tried as usual to suffocate myself in the pillow, the 



96 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

smell of which reminded me of a cow-yard; but when I was weary 
of attempting what I could not perform, I turned my head round 
and lay completely on my back, looking up to the skylight, and 
wildly ruminating. 

The sides of the skylight were partly open, for it was a bell 
light. It was apparently a fine night, but whether it rained or 
not was the same to me. I saw a star or two pass over me, and I saw 
a light that moved round in the heavens, and I was told it was 
the light that had appeared to the wise men or shepherds in the 
East, and that it had been sent to comfort me. The rattling or 
rather grating of the chain against the wall, spoke to me in my 
father's voice. I was in the cell about a fortnight. The second 
night the straw pillow was removed, and a white plume pillow put 
in its place. 

There are a few humane hearts that will shudder and shrink 
at the view of this position, recollecting my birth, my education, 
my talents, and that I had not been an impious or irreflecting 
man. But they will say it was the fault of the doctor, and though 
they condemn the doctor, still it was but the doctor. But no, ohl 
no, my elder brother came to visit me at this very time. I might 
almost say he seemed guided by providence to detect the cruel 
infamies of my situation. But he came and inspected the cell in 
which I was confined at night, he saw me and took leave of me in 
the evening sitting in my straight waistcoat in the niche, exposed 
to my fellow-patients, and he left me to my fate. So great, so 
rooted are this world's hypocrisies, so deep and wide spreading 
its duplicity! so weak are so called sane man's imbecilities; im- 
becilities, such as make me less ashamed of having been a madman, 
when I think of the disgrace of such conduct, of such credulity, 
lightness, and triviality, unaccompanied and unexcused by dis- 
ease. 

In about a fortnight I was removed back to sleep in my former 
apartment. After that the keeper came to my bed-side, regularly 
once each night, and without untying me, administered to my 
necessities, whilst I turned round on my left side as far as I could, 
performing for me, to my utter disgust, the most indelicate and 
revolting offices. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 97 

and lethargy, I inquired of Samuel Hobbs and Marshall, the reason 
of my having been placed in the cells; I received a kind of half 
answer from Hobbs, that it was on account of my infirmity in bed, 
to which Marshall added an observation, that he had remarked to 
his fellow servants, that he thought it a pity I had not more liberty 
in bed, as he conceived I must suffer at times from the long re- 
tention. 

I have observed I used at my own desire to be taken at first 
to a closet up stairs. Here I often counteracted the desire of nature. 
Whether I did so or not, no more attention was paid to me on 
that score during the day. After some time I was taken to a place 
in the yard, or to that I have mentioned in the small court by the 
cells. In this latter I was placed on a seat in which I was fastened 
by a wooden bar in front, and by a manacle to my right hand, and 
there I was left, I dare say for half an hour at a time; and there I 
heard many voices and saw many phantasms. 

In this same place in the summer time, when the water failed 
in the cold bath, which was often but dirty, I was made to undergo 
a kind of shower-bath. I was undressed in one of the cells, and 
accompanied by the two servants, walked naked across the little 
court to the "cloaca," on which I was seated and fastened in; 
Hobbs and the other then went and fetched two or three pails or 
cans of water. There were two brackets in the corner of this place 
over the seat on the right and left, on which Hobbs then mounted 
astride over me. He took one of the pails with him and with a 
pewter urinal ladled the contents of it over me, or poured it 
gradually out of the beer can. The shock used to convulse me a 
great deal, and besides I used to hold back my head with my mouth 
open and hallooing or panting, by which I was often nearly 
choked with the quantity of water that came down my throat. 
When the water was expended I was taken off the seat not without 
attempting to kneel or throw myself on my face before the men, 
who I conceived were spiritual bodies, or Jesus, or God Almighty; 
then I was dressed and reseated in my niche till the hour of exer- 
cise or till dinner time. 

Other painful instances of neglect in the matters alluded to in 
this chapter, to which the other patients and I were subjected, I 
oass over. 



CHAPTER XIX 



MY toilette was very much neglected, and served as an occasion 
for insult and gross treatment on many occasions. At first after 
being taken to the bath I was brought up in the morning to my 
room to wash my hands and my teeth. But when I began either 
to throw myself on the floor or to turn round and round in the 
room whilst the keeper was making my bed, or even when I did 
not set directly to work, he would take the toothbrush violently 
from me, and either wash my hands or fasten my straight waist- 
coat round me without washing me, and take me down stairs. In 
general the plunge in the cold bath was considered dressing 
enough, sometimes I had not even that, but being taken down 
stairs unwashed, the bowl which served to wash the tea things was 
brought with clean water, and I was washed in my niche before 
the other patients and rubbed dry with a coarse duster, an insult 
to them as well as to me. My feet were not washed the whole time I 
was imbecile. The first time I attempted to judge for myself was 
to ask leave not to go to the cold bath in the autumn, I felt as if 
soaked with water, it was granted. The second was to ask for water 
to wash my feet, the request surprised my servant; it was given me 
with some demur. They were begrimed. The toe nails had never 
been cut, and I had lost the nail of my little toe. My finger nails 
were cut by Herminet Herbert regularly, and always as low as they 
could be, as if to disfigure them. Two or three towels were brought 
to my room a week, but whether or no for my own use alone I 
do not know. There was for a long time no glass in my room. 
Once a week Herminet Herbert (Hobbs) brought my linen to my 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 99 

room, which lay on a chair, three or four shirts and as many pairs 
of stockings. I had about two pocket handkerchiefs a week, some- 
times none. The clothes I walked about the country in I was 
quite ashamed of, or rather I thought I ought to be ashamed of 
when I came to myself. When my eldest brother came to see me, I 
recollect I was taken into a room near the sitting room and dressed 
like a school-boy in a new suit previous to my being ushered into 
the parlour. I was then taken quite by surprise, and knew not what 
to expect. 

It is my suspicion that a great deal of this treatment was de- 
signed to insult, under the idea of quickening, arousing, nettling 
the patient's feelings! but there is so much of evident neglect in 
the management, and so much may be the natural consequence of 
a system calculated on the strictest economy, and whereby the case 
of a gentleman is left almost to the entire control of a set of 
ignorant, simple, at times malevolent, and perhaps not over-honest 
servants, that it is not possible for me to determine; and besides, 
my mind is astonished at the idea of reasonable beings admitting 
the propriety of such gross mockery, arguing in so absurd a circle, 
to such a cruel end. It is as if when a jaded post horse has fallen 
motionless from fatigue you were to seek out a raw place to spur 
him or lash him in, to make him show symptoms of life. Again 
I say to myself, if this treatment was intended to insult, why was 
my indignation at it when I came to my senses condemned as mad- 
ness? For so it was, which ever way it is, whether the doctors are 
simple agents of that destroying spirit, that works in their patients 
rendering them their victims, or whether they act designedly, the 
system is a cruel mockery of the patient. He is professedly a pit- 
iable object of scruplous care, the innocent dupe of unintelligible 
delusion, but he is treated as if responsible, as if his dupery is his 
fault; yet if he resists the treatment he is then a madman! and if, 
as in my case, he is agonized and downcast by a continual and un- 
measured self-accusation of his great guilt in being insane, he re- 
ceives no correcting intimation that he has something to say for 
himself, that he is the appalling witness of the power of disease; 
no encouragement, no inspiration of self-confidence; but all around 
tends to keep down his spirits, to depress his energies, to abase and 



ioo PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

degrade him in his own estimation. A short time before I left the 
madhouse, a Captain W., an officer in the army, complained to 
me one morning, evidently deeply perplexed, saying he had asked 
several times for a clean pocket handkerchief, and the one in his 
pocket he had had three days. He attributed it to the regulations 
of the laundry, but then, said he, they allow us I am told three 
a week, and I ought to have one. I told him I imagined that it was 
designed to insult him, and that I thought he would admit as much 
if he considered other parts of the system, and I added they shall 
not get me to ask them for any thing. I advised him to write to his 
father, and I wrote to my family commanding them to attend to 
my reasonable desires; they had the folly and wickedness to deny 
me or to defer justice. 

If the insulting and degrading treatment I have described, was 
indeed designed to mortify and probe the feelings, it was pre- 
posterous, without explanation, expostulation, or remonstrance; 
and impolitic, without a thorough knowledge of the temper and 
humor of the individual to whom it was applied. Why was I con- 
fined? because I was a lunatic. And what is a lunatic, but one 
whose reasoning cannot be depended upon; one of imperfect and 
deranged understanding, and of a diseased imagination? What, 
then, was the natural consequence of my being placed in the most 
extraordinary, difficult, and unreasonable circumstances, without 
explanation, but that I should, as I did, attribute that insult which 
was heaped upon me to the most absurd causes; to the non-per- 
formance of the very acts, which in a sane mind I might have con- 
demned; or to the performance of those which I might have ap- 
plauded. With me, conscience was entirely confounded judg- 
ment perverted. That which others called sin, I deemed virtue; 
that which men called folly, I called wisdom. What can be said, 
when I struck, kicked, wrestled, endangered my own security and 
that of others, as the acts most pleasing to them to witness, most 
dutiful for me to attempt? The reader now, perhaps, wonders at 
treatment like this being possible; but if he does now resent it, in 
nine cases out of ten it is not without my having been obliged to 
reason with him as with a child; so rooted is the prejudice, that 
lunacy cannot be subdued, except by harsh treatment. If he asks 



PERCEVAL S NARRATIVE 1O1 

why these things are so, I will tell him why: because it is the interest 
of the lunatic doctors. That is the end. And the cause lies in the 
servile folly of mankind, of which these lunatic doctors make their 
profit. 

But such treatment is impolitic, not in the lunatic doctor, but 
in the conduct of such as, in good faith, desire a patient's cure; 
because, if discovered or suspected, it may work, as it did in me, a 
deadly hate towards those dealing with me, and a resolution to 
endure any thing, rather than bow a haughty and stubborn spirit 
to their cunning, address, or cruelty. In return for their insolent 
severity, the mind mocks at their care and vigilance, their respect 
and their benevolence. The question, then, lies between the power 
of the patient to endure, and the power of the quack to break his 
spirit. The latter is shamefully uncontrolled by law, in conse- 
quence of the very generous, legitimate, and simple confidence 
placed by chancellors, magistrates and law-officers of the crown 
in the humane, and tender, and scrupulous doctor. I have proved 
that the power of the patient is equal to that of the oppressor. 
But in this contest, when the patience and fortitude of the first 
is exhausted, look to it if the stamina of the constitution if those 
foundations of sound health, are not undermined or broken 
through, on which, with respectful and natural treatment, cure, 
perfect cure, might have been established, and good citizens as- 
sured to the state; not those patched-up pieces of work called 
healed patients, now returned to the world. And again, besides 
the danger thus incurred, through the sullen and obstinate re- 
sentment of the patient, I have proved how, through his very dis- 
ease, through his very delusions, the power of the spirit of evil 
mocks at such endeavours to subdue his empire over our conduct 
and our imaginations, without the will of the individual working 
malignantly with him. 

Mine was not a solitary instance. Another patient in that mad- 
house, who, I observed, seldom or never spoke, when one was 
hinting to me, that he thought the servants were directed to insult 
and degrade us, or, at least, did it designedly, of their own malevo- 
lence, opened his lips, to my astonishment, and declared that 
when he first came to the asylum, whilst sitting one evening in the 



IDS PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

parlour wherein we were, he rang the bell, or called for a candle 
for another gentleman, when the servant came up, and, grossly 
insulting him, turned him, too, out of the room, and sent him to 
bed; since which, says he, I have never opened my mouth, except 
when absolutely necessary. Upon my pressing for further informa- 
tion, he resumed his silence; and though his conduct did not 
appear to me extremely wise, yet I can tell gentlemen who con- 
demn it, that though it is a very comfortable doctrine for the 
lunatic doctors, and for a set of indolent and inefficient magistrates, 
to doubt and deny credit to a lunatic gentleman's word, we under- 
stand their insolence, and feel their injustice, though we cannot 
express our opinions, and dare not retaliate. And we beg leave to 
differ in our opinion. The only resource for the pride of many 
men is in a stubborn silence, and outward indifference. It is not 
surprising, then, if that is the only resource of the lunatic; of 
whom, it appears, all possible moral perfections are to be ex- 
pected, instead of allowance being made for all possible moral 
weakness, whilst he is cut off from all human aid. 

To return to the article of toilette. I was shaved three times a 
week: Saturday was one of those days. Occasionally I was taken 
up to my own bed-room for this operation; but usually, for one 
half the year, I was ushered in, in turn with the other gentlemen, 
to a small room belonging to another, I fancy to old Patience, on 
the same floor with our common room; and the rest of the year, to 
a small servant's bed-room up stairs. In this room, there was one 
patient tying his neckcloth, another sitting to be shaved, and a 
third pulling off his coat; besides two servants and occasionally 
three. After being shaved, I was washed in the dirty water the rest 
had been using, and rubbed dry with the servant's dirty towel; 
and then, with a slight shove on the back, told to go down again 
to the sitting-room; or else I walked down arm in arm with 
Herminet Herbert, as I imagined my Saviour. I used at first re- 
peatedly to ask the barber to cut my throat in obedience to voices 
I heard; but I did not want it. I was always very nervous when 
being shaved, and found my mind more disturbed by it than at 
any other time, when I began to know my situation. It was also 
one of the circumstances that touched me with most sorrow and 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 103 

indignation, when I came to myself. For as a military man, I had 
always shaved every day; and I thought, if my friends had been 
disposed to show me any delicate attention during my illness, it 
would have been to have kept up my ancient military habits. 
But it is ridiculous to talk of delicacy. I recollect, also, when re- 
covering, that one of the first shocks I felt my mind received, was 
in turning accidentally to the glass in the door of a dark closet, 
where the knives were cleaned, and seeing that my whiskers were 
cut short. I had never touched them from a lad, and used to take 
pleasure in their curls. I observed, on catching my face in the pane 
of glass, that my head involuntarily glanced away; and I turned 
back, to reflect what had struck me. I then recollected the day 
Marshall had cut my hair, in a chair at the end of the yard; and 
his manner had appeared to me very starch and sarcastic. I can- 
not say whether it was done for insult, or according to his idea of 
beauty. But it was disrespectful; for they might leave their pa- 
tients, at least, as they find them, in such respects. The insult was 
either at the time thrown away upon me, or, as I think, my mind 
too much overwhelmed by my calamity and by my situation to 
notice it. 

When I began to be more trusted, I was invited to dine in the 
afternoon with the young Dr. F. and his pretty little wife. I called 
her Repentance. Two or three patients usually dined with them 
at one time. Herminet Herbert waited on us, and a beautiful 
servant-girl, whom I called Louisa, and believed to be my sister. 
I contrived to get through the dinner without any very extraor- 
dinary actions or expressions, and afterwards I used to dine oc- 
casionally in the old doctor's mansion, in greater company; and 
though yet in a dream, my behaviour there was still more mod- 
erate. My spirits directed my attention with great rapidity to the 
objects of furniture, books, curtains, pillars, glasses, Sec, in the 
room, and to little acts of civility. And I attribute my better man- 
ners to the greater occupation given to my imagination by variety 
of situation and ornament, and to my being in circumstances more 
congenial to my habits, and sensible of the impression of decent 
conduct and formalities around me. 

I was much amused, about the middle of summer, when I was 



104 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

more collected, at the style of invitation sent to me. The old 
housekeeper came in, and said, "You are to send Mr. P. and two 
other patients in to dine with young Dr. F." I heard this acciden- 
tally; usually, I knew nothing of the great favour intended till the 
hour came, or by not being fed at the common table. When I 
heard the message, I was at first amused; then I thought, Do they 
intend to insult me? or is it the servant's fault? and my spirits 
dictated to me to be high-minded, and not to go. But I replied, 
Pooh! children! they don't care for me, and I don't care for them; 
let them alonel 

On these occasions, Herminet Herbert took me up stairs to 
wash my hands, or brought down a clean white cravat, and a clean 
pair of shoes to put on, before I entered the ladies' presence. But 
one day, one of these attentions was neglected, after I had asked 
for it; or for another reason, perhaps because I was not shaved. I 
determined to refuse dining with them, not thinking myself fit to 
appear in the ladies' society. But the opinion or will of the patient 
was not once thought of in this matter: to refuse was in vain. I 
was pushed on, partly in humour, partly in earnest, by Herminet 
Herbert; and just as I was going to fight him, Mrs. F. and her 
husband issued from the drawing-room; and out of respect to her 
I ceased, and went to dinner. 

I was taken down to the bath generally in the morning, but 
occasionally in the forenoon. In the morning, a great-coat or dress- 
ing-gown was thrown over me, and I went up stairs again to dress. 
Often, however, I was dressed in the cells adjoining the baths, by 
one or two keepers. Here I used to be directed to dodge my feet 
about, to untie what they had fastened, to throw off what they put 
on, to rise up from my chair, and to wrestle with them. There was 
a bath repairing in one of the cells, into which I was often 
prompted to throw Herminet Herbert backward; but although I 
was told it was what he desired, I could not conquer my fear of its 
causing his death. On one occasion, I was alone in the cell with 
this man, when he was putting on my stockings; and I bent for- 
ward, as usual, to prevent him: he threw me backward with great 
violence against the wall, and my head came with such force against 
the bricks, that a light seemed to strike through it, and I was al- 
most stupified. But such acts were not extraordinary. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 105 

I now come to an important part of the regulations of this 
madhouse; the mockery of sending us to church, so it was called. 
A large room at the end of the building, which in week days served 
as a laundry, was on Sunday converted into a chapel. The female 
patients sat in the further end, with Dr. F.'s family, separated from 
the male by a screen. Would any sensible people believe it pos- 
sible that I was taken, in my state of mind, to assist at this service? 
I went there believing that I was about to attend a kind of con- 
demned sermon each time, after which, I was to be plunged into 
the bath, in which I was to be drowning for ever, and ever, and 
ever, for not having performed one act of duty to the Lord Jehovah 
supremely omnipotent; for not having struck properly, or wrestled 
properly, with one of the keepers. But I had a chance offered me 
of escaping my melancholy doom, if I would get up and wrestle 
with one of the keepers present. Sure enough up I got, and some- 
times seized Simplicity, sometimes Sincerity; who then hurried 
me away crying out aloud. There was attention shown to me 
however, in this instance, that Dr. F. F. came and sat beside me, 
persuading me to be quiet. This room was paved with square 
flag-stones, and when in my mind I objected to wrestling in it, 
because it was paved with stone, I looked again, and saw it was 
regularly boarded, but it was really in stone. It was these miracles 
of the imagination that made me cling to the delusion of being 
in two or three places at once. 

After several experiments, I was left alone on Sunday evening 
in the sitting room, with the old gentleman I called Jehovah 
Gireth, who, fortunately for him, was a Roman Catholic; and so 
enjoyed that evening an hour's peace. But when I began to recover 
my intellect, I was taken to this sad exhibition, this congregation 
of demons as I called them, again. I found, however, that my feel- 
ings were too acutely excited by the liturgy and the recollections 
the service awakened, for me to command them; and that, unless 
I wished to expose myself more disagreeably, my only chance was 
to turn things to ridicule. I was laughing, therefore, the whole 
service through, and, fearing that that in the end would harden 
my heart, I applied for leave to abstain from church. This was 
granted; but subsequently, when I had struck one of my keepers 
on a Saturday, either of his own private spite, or by order of Dr. F. 



io6 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

as a punishment, I was desired to attend church next evening. 
I refused, and was offended; but recollecting myself, I took up my 
hat, and walked on in silence, seating myself in the church until Dr. 
F. F. came in. I was determined then not to submit to their cursed 
rule any longer, but to assert my own rights, and I rose up to meet 
him, and told him it was my desire not to attend the church serv- 
ice. He tried to silence me, but I persisted; and he then said aloud 
and contemptuously, "Take Mr. P. out; I must not let him dis- 
turb the congregation." Simplicity took me out, and as he lum- 
bered after me, he tapped me with the key of the room on my 
shoulder, deprecating my conduct, and saying good-humoredly, 
"Come, come, Mr. P. no more of this; we shall be obliged to put 
you in a straight waistcoat again." He thought that I was return- 
ing to insanity because I resisted the doctor; or else he knew that 
the opposition of lunatics returning to reason, was so met; but I 
was confident in my powers of mind, and resolved to dispute 
usurped authority. 

Now for the medical care taken of me. I was called in courtesy, 
and I was in the truest sense, a nervous patient, through disease, 
through medicine, through fever, and through mental anxiety. 
I was brought to Dr. F. immediately. The first diet offered me I 
objected to in my mind, ruined as it was, as unwholesome, namely, 
a kind of forced meat, and slices of bacon. Soon after that, I, a 
nervous patient, was confined in a large room with eleven or more 
others, nervous patients also, and servants, and certain of them 
occasionally raving, stamping, bawling, violent madmen. The 
mental agony, the distress, the actions of these wretched men, 
their quarrels with one another, their struggles with the servants, 
the servants' rude and cruel manner, my own weaknesses and 
follies, and the violence they brought on me, all were exposed to 
me, and I to them. I was confined also amongst these men, hand 
and foot. Often left alone for hours with two or three of them. I, 
weak in body, weak in mind, not able to support fear, or to control 
it as another, and, besides, overwhelmed by superstitious fears. 
This was my position for six months, until after the hay-making, 
and then for six months more with the difference of not being tied 
up. All this was under the direction of a surgeon, a physician. A 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 107 

surgeon attended the asylum, and surgeons came with the magis- 
trates to inspect. Now talk to me of the honesty of that class of 
professional men, of the respectability of physicians, of the confi- 
dence to be reposed in them! Money-making hypocrites! fawning 
sycophants! they deserve my curse, and they have it. 

I do not recollect at any time medicine being given me; neither 
to purify the blood; neither as tonics; except on two occasions. 
No! the cheap and universal nostrum was to be ducked in the cold 
bath; in the depth of winter or not, no matter; no matter what my 
previous habits. I am thankful however even for this, that I was 
treated usually with more modesty here than other patients, I 
went usually alone, the others in a body; and generally, I had the 
first dip before the water had been used; but not always, and it 
was not always overclean. 

Soon after this, boils came out on my feet and knees, and I 
recollect Dr. F. F. putting a black plaster over them. At that time, 
I imagined this was the pitch plaster to be placed over my mouth 
and eyes in the bath of boiling water. 

At one period, I fancy about May, instead of the cold bath, 
I was taken to a room with a stone floor, and placed in a vapour 
bath. Dr. F. F. or his brother attended on two or three occasions. 
I thought I was to be suffocated; and when I came out safe, imag- 
ined I owed it to their prayers. My mother afterwards informed 
me that this treatment was undertaken at her particular request, 
and abandoned because they imagined it excited me. This shows 
how ignorant and superficial were their opinions; for indeed, I 
preferred it to the cold bath; it felt comfortable, the other painful. 
They both excited in me equal alarm. But the young doctors did 
not accompany me to the cold bath, and the vapour bath, no doubt, 
gave more trouble to the servants. 

About June, if I may guess, when the buttercups and daisies 
were blowing in the meadows, I was taken out one or two days, 
walking alone with Sincerity. The second day I was fastened, in the 
afternoon, in a wicker chair, in the small parlour upstairs alone. 
That day, one of the housekeepers, Marshall's wife, came up to me, 
and gave me a piece of bread, covered with jam, tasting strongly 
of garlick or onions. I thought she was my mother, though I did 



io8 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

not understand it, and I was desired to refuse the bread and jam 
as usual, but I ate it. That afternoon, or next day, I was taken to a 
small room adjoining, and a grey-headed gentleman I had not seen 
before, came in with Dr. F. and Mr. H. F. My spirits told me 
I was to suffer something, and gave me my option to resist it or to 
endure it on certain terms. I submitted; and the right temporal 
artery was opened until I nearly fainted. I believed the gentle- 
man was my father, and called him so. I leaned my head back on 
Herminet Herbert's bosom, and looking up to him, called on 
him by the name Jesus. After the men were gone down, he took 
and placed me on a close stool in the room, and held me on it. 
I was very weak. My spirits forbade me making use of the close 
stool. I was then taken back and fastened in the wicker chair; then 
a number of delusions about singing came upon me. I imagined 
my temple had been closed, as the vein of a horse, by a pin and 
some tow; and I tried to rub the wound open, from delusion. I 
remained here a week or a fortnight, during which Mr. J. whom 
I thought my youngest brother, was occasionally allowed to come 
up and stay with me. He was a wild young lad, speaking in figures 
and hints spiritually, not understood by those around him, though 
I saw the spirit had a concealed meaning. I think he had a spirit 
of divination. 

Some time after this, when my ear became swollen from ex- 
travasated blood, another slice of bread and jam tasting of garlic 
was given me downstairs, after I came home from walking. Soon 
after, I was taken up stairs, and the same old gentleman examined 
my ear, and opened it with a lancet. It gave me great pain. The 
servants afterwards told me that great clots of blood had come out. 
Immediately after this, I was taken down stairs again to dinner, 
and treated as usuall Both times I felt very much frightened. On 
neither occasion had I any preparation. 

I tried as soon as I was down stairs, and daily tried, to split open 
my ear again. What I could not do, my servant did for me. For 
walking out with him one forenoon, and crying out as usual, he, 
from his pert insolence, took upon himself to gather a switch, and 
to correct me with it. He struck me over the face, and the end 
coming round opened my wound, and the blood spirted out. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 109 

He seemed alarmed and conscious, and left me on a bench in the 
drying ground, near which it took place, to run to the house dose 
by for assistance, when one came, and a plaster was put on it. 
After that, Dr. L. who had performed both operations, examined 
my ear once more, but did not open it. 

When I began to come round, I think the third case I exercised 
my judgment in, was in asking for some opening medicine. Salts 
were given to me. A second time, my servant Hobbs forgot to ask 
for any, but being a make-shift kind of man, brought me two black 
pills he said he had got in Paris, and thought would do as well. 

I have said that I asked permission not to use the cold bath from 
feeling conscious of its doing me injury: this was in autumn, but in 
the winter of 1831, when I saw through the cruelty of the system 
and its dupery, and called it by its right name, and struck one of 
the keepers, I was desired to use the cold bath again. That in- 
dignation naturally excited by a sane perception of my circum- 
stances, by the refusal to attend to my protestations, and by my 
complete state of defencelessness amongst those whose characters 
I was impugning, was mistaken for insanity, to be treated with the 
infallible nostrum. So, at least, I suppose I am to take it, but / 
acknowledge 1 do suspect baser motives, I cannot give credit to 
these gentlemen for being quite so simple as they pretend to be. 
But this suspicion no doubt must be considered a remains of my 
delusions. 

So one morning, Hobbs intimated to me that it was the doctor's 
desire that I should use the cold bath again; this was in January. 
I told my servant I had objections to it, and begged to wait till I 
had applied to Dr. F. F, I expected to see him during the day, but 
that morning he did not come. I then applied for pen, ink, and 
paper, to write to him, but like other requests, it was neglected: 
at last, on leaving my apartment to go to bed, I said to Hobbs "will 
you tell Dr. F. that it is not my intention to make use of the cold 
bath." I had objections to it from experience, as well as from con- 
science; besides the disagreeableness of it at that season of the year. 
Next morning I was awakened early by three or four servants com- 
ing into my room. They told me they had orders to take me to 
the cold bath, and that I had better come quietly. I protested 



no PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

and argued with them. I told them I knew it was bad for me, and 
that it was against my conscience. What right had Dr. F. who 
ought, as master of an asylum, to be my protector, to force my 
conscience in matters indifferent to the security and peace of oth- 
ers? How would they reconcile it with their duty as Christians 
to do so? "Come, come, it is my master's orders," said Hobbs. 
"Yes," said I, "but you will have to answer for it before God." 
"Come, come, we've no time to lose." "Then," said I, "I protest 
against it as an Englishman, and as an English gentleman. I am 
placed under Dr. F., to be taken care of, not to be insulted and 
tyrannized over. I am not to submit, without reason, to any stupid 
charlatan's conceit, because I am unfortunate enough to need his 
control: and I call upon you to answer me before the tribunals of 
my own country, as well as before God, for this conduct." They 
then cajoled again, and advised me to come quietly not to make 
resistance. I said, "don't be afraid, I will not play your master's 
game for him. I will not hurt any one of you, but off this bed I 
will not go, unless I am taken by force. When you have laid hands 
on me, then I will follow." They then took me by the arms and 
legs off the bed, and accompanied me down stairs. I called on 
one of them, who used to shave me occasionally, and was more 
good-natured than the rest, whom also I used to call Honesty, and 
by the name of Wynn, to be witness to the protestations, and to 
the force used. 

I was taken down to a new bath, in every respect more cheer- 
ful and superior to that I had used the year before. It was build- 
ing when I came into the madhouse. Each room was well lighted 
and plastered. I looked through the windows, and saw snow lying 
on the tiles and leads on each side. I plunged into the cold bath, 
and now for the first time I allowed the water to enter my mouth 
and drank of it. I disobeyed the voices in doing so, but it was 
usually a reason for me now to do any thing, if I heard a spirit 
forbid it. I was sorry I had never done so before, being prevented 
by superstitious fear, for it seemed to bring me to my senses, and 
to make me calm and reasonable. Since I have been at liberty I 
have observed that it makes the panting and agitation caused by 
the shock of cold water to cease: perhaps by equalizing the temper- 



PERCEVAL S NARRATIVE 111 

ature more rapidly. After I had well bathed Hobbs opened a small 
door and put me under a shower-bath, the shock of which gave me 
the most acute pain throughout my head, as if my whole head were 
one tooth-ache. That afternoon I was placed in a private room 
up stairs, and I wrote to the doctor complaining of the treatment 
I had undergone, protesting against it, and particularly describ- 
ing the pain given me by the shower-bath; the next morning I was 
taken down and bathed, the weather was equally severe; on the 
morrow I had a cold in the head and requested the servant for 
that cause to pass it over; he did, saying he would speak to Dr. F. 
Next morning in spite of my complaints, I was again bathed, and 
a second time placed under the shower-bath. My head was again 
pierced by that acute pain, and each time during the remainder 
of the day my head seemed on fire. I was mad now with indigna- 
tion, and terrified at my danger. Fortunately soon after this I 
received the letter from my mother in which she states that accord- 
ing to my desire, she was going to remove me. Then I again 
stated my wish to cease from the cold bath, to Mr. EL F., (when I 
began to find fault with them, I was not much troubled by the 
visits of the other two) and he said he would speak about it, but 
recommended me to use the vapour bath instead; I accepted this 
to secure my escape from the other, as there appeared to be affec- 
tation in the offer of it, and as though it was expected from my 
conduct last year that I should refuse the vapour bath, when ne- 
cessity would be pretended for the other. 



CHAPTER XX 



THE diet allowed me was plain. In the morning and evening 
a basin of tea and milk poured out of a beer or water can, and four 
pieces of thick bread and butter. As to the manner of serving it, 
I was never so treated even in childhood or at school. At dinner a 
plain joint with potatoes and three times a week pudding, with 
water or small beer to drink. In my opinion a few glasses of wine 
would have done me no harm, and I was accustomed to drink 
wine. Whenever I dined with the Doctor, wine was offered, but 
commanded by my spirits I generally refused it. I object to the 
manner in which my meals were given to me, more than to the 
nature of them. But I do not think they were quite fit for one of 
my habits in my situation. The patients generally used a knife 
and fork. I was not always allowed a knife. The servants carved 
the meat, and I often had great pieces of fat given me which I 
devoured voraciously, I remarked that after my ear had been 
opened I was allowed to eat as ravenously as I had previously, and 
no respect was paid to my diet in particular except in the middle 
of the year, when the three servants who waited on the patients 
in our room went away on leave of absence, and their place was 
supplied by three others; the old man I called my Father, another 
I called Honesty, and handsome young man of a humane disposi- 
tion. These three behaved very kindly, and much more respect- 
fully. The old man when he put me to bed sometimes leant over 
me to kiss my forehead, saying, God bless you. Honesty used to 
cut me small portions of meat, and when I asked for more shake 
his head considering and saying, no I think you have had enough. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 113 

They were quiet and inoffensive and did not strike me except once, 
when the old man touched me with a stick when I was throwing 
myself over a style, saying, with hesitation, "I think Hobbs used 
to beat you for this." 

But when I got my liberty I used to eat of potatoes and bread 
and butter most greedily. I did this in obedience to a spirit of 
humour, which made me try to deceive my spirits. They told me 
the spirits in the gentlemen round me refused their potatoes or 
their bread and butter for me, because I refused to obey the spirits 
that desired me to leave mine, and I was told if I made resolutions 
to use the same abstemiousness, they by doing so, would save me 
from much torments; it was my amusement to watch till their 
attention was distracted, or till I could reach the plates, and then 
I applied all their leavings to myself. Often of an evening I ate 
thus nine pieces of thick bread and butter; I never felt that I was 
oppressed by it. I fancy that I made myself as far as I could a 
perfect beast, but more particularly when my limbs were confined, 
and I was devouring the fat and skin put on my plate. I observed 
one young man, a Mr. J., often complained in a broken manner of 
the manner in which he was helped, and he was usually helped 
most unhandily; I have since suspected the fat was placed on my 
plate to try me, but it is an even chance that the servant imagined 
I preferred it of a sound taste. When the table cloth was being 
laid for dinner, the patients were ushered into the yard where 
there was an alcove. Then Patience who had been standing on his 
legs all the forenoon, went out also into the yard; but first all the 
lunatics cleared the room. When I began to recover, one rainy 
day I refused to go into the yard preferring my seat by the fire, but 
after some demur I yielded, rather than cause confusion. I used 
to wonder also at so many madmen using their knives so harmlessly, 
only one day young Mr. J. cut at my legs under the table in sport 
with a knife. I do not think he intended to harm me, but I got 
up and desired to have another chair given me rather than run the 
risk. One evening also still later in the year, an old patient, jab- 
bering a great deal, struck me a blow at tea, to which I replied by 
a smart box on the ear, which made the whole company laugh. 
It was seldom they did laugh. My hand struck that blow, but it 



ii4 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

was involuntary on my part, as if my hand had been moved by a 
violent wind. A spirit seized my arm with great rapidity, and I 
struck as if I was a girl. I recollect feeling grieved that the gentle- 
men should laugh to see a young man strike an old man. But old 
Benevolence told me, you have done perfectly right; I was obliged 
to strike that old gentleman myself when he first came into the 
asylum, without that there is no keeping him in order. 

When I say I ate my meals voraciously, I allude to the manner 
rather than the quantity, for I was not helped more than twice to 
meat and once to pudding, and once to cheese. I began eating 
quietly and attending to the directions of my spirits but gradually 
I lost all self-possession. The day after I was bled from the tem- 
poral artery, I had a dinner of fish given me, and I was fed for 
many days with a wooden spoon, fastened up in my wicker chair. 



CHAPTER XXI 



DURING the whole period o my confinement I was never tempt- 
ed to commit suicide; under my delusions I was often commanded 
to commit acts endangering my life and safety, but always with a 
view to my salvation, or that o others, and so far from any inten- 
tion of self-destruction, that I expected to be raised again immedi- 
ately if any evil happened to me. At Dublin I was to twist my neck, 
afterwards I was to suffocate myself, at Dr. F/s I used to provoke 
the keepers to strike me or to throttle me. One morning after the 
bath, Hobbs did at my request strangle me with the strings of the 
straight waistcoat after he had fastened me in the niche. He did 
it perhaps in sport, perhaps saying to himself, we'll see what will 
come of it. It did me good so far, that finding I was disappointed 
in the miraculous results promised to me, I desisted from requiring 
it. I used to throw myself over the styles, I used to throw myself 
forward flat on the face on the ground; and besides this the voices 
told me to throw myself to the right, or to the left, which I did 
repeatedly, and once or twice down a steep green bank round a 
mound in the yard to our apartment. In this I was prevented 
sometimes by an old patient continually reciting incoherent sen- 
tences mingled with Latin, who mixed up his recitation with calls 
to the servants indicating my danger. In all these acts I sought a 
miraculous benefit. If there was any thing miraculous in the re- 
sult, it was that I escaped with whole bones. I was not conscious 
of pain from the blows I received at the time, but I knew after- 
wards I must have suffered pain, from the bruises on my body. 
So I recollect when I sat in the niche opposite the fire-place, I ob- 



ii6 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

served in the morning my feet covered with red chilblains. But 
my spirits said it should be a sign to me, and that I should not feel 
them if I was doing my duty to the Lord Jehovah supremely om- 
nipotent. They then occupied my attention by their injunctions 
during the day, which I endeavoured to understand and act up to. 
I felt the chilblains after breakfast, and once again after that, but 
my mind was immediately occupied again, and I was rendered 
unconscious to the irritation. 

I used repeatedly to refuse my meals in order to be choked by 
their being crammed down my throat, to endure something to the 
honour of the Lord Jehovah supremely omnipotent. I was ac- 
cused however of only affecting and so to provoke choking, I tried 
again and again. At last one afternoon Sincerity came to force 
down my meat, which I had refused with this object. I resisted 
with all my power till he literally crammed it down my gullet, 
bringing back the end of the spoon with blood on it, and chipping 
one of my teeth. He then came and with a coarse duster brutally 
wiped my face, bringing blood from my lips or gums, and saying, 
pretty boyl with a strong nasal twang. This took place whilst all 
the patients were at their dinner. The Rev. Mr. J. whom I used 
to call Affection, got up in great agitation, and stamped with his 
foot, and stretched out his trembling hands crying, "Good God, 
Marshall! you'll strangle himl Marshall I say!" but I made him a 
sign with my left hand which was fastened against the wall, mean- 
ing, be quiet, it's all for my good. I was not violent, but puerilely 
patient, but determined not to swallow the food but by force, and 
I was puzzled when my spirits told me I had done my duty so well 
to Sincerity that he should wipe my face so brutally afterwards. 

Dr. F.'s madhouse stood in a very fine and picturesque country, 
and near a steep and wooded bank that bordered the river. At 
one elevated spot that commanded a view down the valley, a 
natural or artificial precipice yawned in the red soil, crowned with 
a small parapet, in rear of which was a small terrace and a summer 
house. When I went out with the patients we were often con- 
ducted here. They called it the battery. The view was enchant- 
ing, but I looked down on the people working and the boats 
moving in the valley, with feelings that they were dead to me, and 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 117 

that I was cut off from them by a charm, by a riddle I was every 
minute on the point of guessing. I sat on the parapet looking down 
over the precipice, and Hobbs stood by me. My voices commanded 
me to throw myself over, that I should be immediately in heavenly 
places, that I was brought here to prove my faith in the Lord, that 
I should not be hurt if I threw myself over in his time, that if I 
was hurt I should be raised again immediately. But either the 
danger was too apparent, or the servant stood too near, or I had 
received enough rude treatment to no effect, to have less confidence 
in the assurances of my being a spiritual body; I did not venture. 
And after the second visit I did not approach the parapet, but sat 
in the summer house to avoid the temptation. The other patients 
sat on the battery. I consider it a most imprudent place to take 
them to. 

My family chose the situation for me, partly on account of the 
beautiful scenery. Their kindness was ill-judged; for I have no 
doubt the noble views excited my spirits, awakened by imagina- 
tion, and redoubled every blow of affliction, reminding me of my 
former health, and force of mind, and liberty. About the middle 
of the year, I was taken out walking with the patients, though I 
had not entirely given up my shouting and hallooing. We walked 
one after the other, I thought like a string of wild geese, nine or 
ten of us in a row. The hills are pretty stiff, and were, in fact, too 
much for me, causing my pulses to beat too rapidly. From the top 
of a high hill, at some distance from our abode, there was a com- 
manding prospect to the sea, over Somersetshire into Wales: on 
this hill, before we descended, Samuel Hobbs cut out his initials 
on the soil. Now when at first I had doubted the words of my 
spirits, that Hobbs was my Saviour, I was desired to look on his 
waistcoat, and there I saw the initials S.H. marked in red silk. 
I was made then to understand that these initials meant Salvator 
Hominum; and when I came to know that he was also S. Hobbs, 
my spirits assured me that Jesus had chosen those two names, to 
preserve the initials he was entitled to, and at the same time to 
strengthen my faith. I was directed now on the hill, and I did 
carve with his stick J. upon the soil before S.H., to show my faith 
that he was indeed Jesus Salvator Hominum. 

But to resume: when I had more liberty, and was aware of my 



n8 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

situation, I stood one day in my bed-room, before the little square 
glass, reflecting upon self-destruction, upon which I had always 
looked as a cowardly, mean, and ungenerous action; perhaps it 
was after having heard a patient make some painful remarks on it 
before the other gentlemen; perhaps it was after hearing a servant 
describe how one of the patients had put his head under a cart- 
wheel; but at the time I was considering, also, how a man could 
summon boldness to endure the bodily pain, as well as obliterate 
moral feeling; when my right arm was suddenly raised, and my 
hand drawn rapidly across my throat, as if by galvanism. I then 
justified our law, which acquits an insane man from the verdict 
of felo de se; and I determined not to advert to the subject again, 
seeing that I had not control over my spirits, until I was free from 
provocation: in which resolution I persevered. 



CHAPTER XXII 



Now with regard to my treatment, I have to make at first two 
general observations, which apply, I am afraid, too extensively to 
every system of management yet employed towards persons in my 
condition. First, the suspicion and the fact of my being incapable 
of reasoning correctly, or deranged in understanding, justified 
apparently every person who came near me, in dealing with me 
also in a manner contrary to reason and contrary to nature. These 
are strong words; but in the minutest instances I can, alas! prove 
them true. Secondly, my being likely to attack the rights of others 
gave these individuals license, in every respect, to trample upon 
mine. My being incapable of feeling, and of defending myself, 
was construed into a reason for giving full play to this license. 
Instead of my understanding being addressed and enlightened, 
and of my path being made as clear and plain as possible, in con- 
sideration of my confusion, I was committed, in really difficult 
and mysterious circumstances, calculated of themselves to con- 
found my mind, even if in a sane state, to unknown and untried 
hands; and I was placed amongst strangers, without introduction, 
explanation, or exhortation. Instead of great scrupulousness 
being observed in depriving me of any liberty or privilege, and of 
the exercise of so much choice and judgment as might be conceded 
to me with safety; on the just ground, that for the safety of soci- 
ety my most valuable rights were already taken away, on every 
occasion, in every dispute, in every argument, the assumed prem- 
ise immediately acted upon was, that I was to yield, my desires 
were to be set aside, my few remaining privileges to be infringed 



120 PERCEVAL S NARRATIVE 

upon, for the convenience of others. Yet I was in a state of mind 
not likely to acknowledge even the justice of my confinement, and 
in a state of defencelessness calculated to make me suspicious, and 
jealous of any further invasion of my natural and social rights: 
but this was a matter that never entered into their consideration. 

Against this system of downright oppression, enforced with 
sycophantish adulation and affected pity by the doctor, adopted 
blindly by the credulity of relations, and submitted to by the pa- 
tients with meek stupidity, or vainly resisted by natural but hope- 
less violence, I had to fight my way for two years, wringing from 
my friends a gradual but tardy assent to the most urgent expostu- 
lations: not from the physicians; their law is the same for all 
qualities and dispositions, and their maxim to clutch and hold fast. 

The first step adopted towards me by my friend, Captain , 

in Dublin, was injudicious and indelicate. If I had been inco- 
herent, I had hitherto only rendered myself ridiculous; and if, by 
one act, I had run the risk of injuring my person, it was also evi- 
dent that I had relinquished my purpose at the request of his 
family. I trace my ruin to the particular trials, to the surprise, the 
confusion, the puzzle, which the sudden intrusion of a keeper 
brought upon me. But at that time, unfortunately, I did not con- 
sider my dignity so much as my relationship to the Almighty, as 
his redeemed servant, bound in gratitude, and from self-abase- 
ment, to exercise forbearance and humility. If it be replied, My 
ruin might have been brought about another way; I answer, I do 
not know what might have been, but I know what did take place. 

The first symptoms of my derangement were, that I gazed 
silently on the medical men who came to me, and resolutely per- 
sisted in acts apparently dangerous. No doubt there were also 
sypmtoms of bodily fever. But from that moment to the end of my 
confinement, men acted as though my body, soul, and spirit were 
fairly given up to their control, to work their mischief and folly 
upon. My silence, I suppose, gave consent. I mean, that I was 
never told, such and such things we are going to do; we think it 
advisable to administer such and such medicine, in this or that 
manner; I was never asked, Do you want any thing? do you wish 
for, prefer any thing? have you any objection to this or to that? 



PERCEVAL S NARRATIVE 121 

1 was fastened down in bed; a meagre diet was ordered for me; this 
and medicine forced down my throat, or in the contrary direction; 
my will, my wishes, my repugnances, my habits, my delicacy, my 
inclinations, my necessities, were not once consulted, I may say, 
thought of. I did not find the respect paid usually even to a child. 
Yet my mind was at first sound, except as far as it was deceived by 
preternatural injunctions; in a certain respect, it remained sound 
throughout my illness, so that it faithfully recorded the objects 
and the events that took place around me; but I looked to the inspi- 
rations I received for the interpretation of them. If at any time 
my ear could have been closed to my delusions, I was then fit to be 
at liberty; but the credit I gave to my delusions, rather than to my 
judgment, was my disease. I was not, however, once addressed by 
argument, expostulation, or persuasion. The persons round me 
consulted, directed, chose, ordered, and force was the unica and 
ultima ratio applied to me. If I were insane, in my resolution to 
be silent, because I was sure that neither of the doctors, or of my 
friends, would understand my motives, or give credit to facts they 
had not themselves experienced; they were surely no less insane, 
who because of my silence, forgot the use of their own tongues, 
who, because of my neglect of the duties I owed to them, expunged 
from their consciences all deference to me; giving up so speedily 
and entirely all attempt at explanation; all hope of sifting the 
cause of my delusions; all hope of addressing my reason with suc- 
cess; all hope of winning me to speak. If I needed medicine and 
light diet, still, I say to myself, surely that was not all; surely air 
and exercise, and water, and occupation or amusement, and a little 
solid food, would have done me no harm. Certainly, if they wanted 
to ensure a case for medicine, and broths, and ultimately for a 
lunatic asylum, the neglect of my nature, as an animal and intel- 
lectual being, was consistent. These two poor gentlemen in Dub- 
lin were, however, comparatively innocent. They went like a 
donkey blindfolded, round and round in the mill, the same to 
them whether the cord that draws up the water was broken or not. 
They, with whom I had to do in England, were perverse as well as 
infatuated. There, when I began to understand my wants, to know 
my rights, to claim them, to upbraid, remonstrate, threaten, in 



122 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

order to procure respect for them, the reply was still the same. "The 
doctors advise, and your family are bound to follow blindly their 
advice; and you must submit, whether or no." 

My position was in every respect more depressing when I came 

to Dr. F *s. I was no longer in rooms that I had chosen, but 

in a new place, to which I had been removed without my will 
having been consulted, and left there without explanation. This 
gave inlet to, and confirmed the delusion, that I was no longer a 
free agent, but under the control of beings superiorly enlightened. 
I may say, that I met with no persuasion, explanation, or exhorta- 
tion throughout the time of my residence here; but to speak more 
strictly, no remonstrance was addressed to me in a manner befitting 
my age, character, or situation, I have already mentioned how 
I was disappointed in my brother's conduct; he made light of my 
delusions, and I said to myself, he must be a perfect fool, to know 
what power of mind I had, and to think I am acting without a very 
strong cause. After being treated with so little reflection by him, 
I was not surprised at strangers behaving in the same manner; 
but, in truth, whilst they were pitying my folly, I was shocked at, 
and pitying theirs. My delusions had rendered me imbecile, but 
I was not aware of it; and they addressed me as a child, and I did 
not understand them, because I knew I was a man. 

Dr. F 's system was to class all the errors of his patients 

under the head of imagination. A safe and plausible term, used to 
catch others, and to disguise their own ignorance; at the same time, 
that it augured little of respect or hope to the patient, the effects of 
whose imagination on him were often as real, as the impression of 
sensible objects on the supercilious doctor. It was not likely, 
therefore, that I should confide the difficulties of my mind to men 
who, by slighting the origin of them, betrayed their presumption, 
whilst affecting excellent acuteness. 

The doctor's manner of address to me, and that of others, 
always puzzled me, and made it difficult for me to act or to reply: 
it was coupled, too, with a kind of half-and-half manner, as if my 
sincerity were mistrusted, which corroborated the communica- 
tions my spirits made to me, that they came to try me; and when I 
regained better health, became very offensive. Sometimes, if I 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 123 

called out aloud, the young doctor would assume a winning smile, 
and put his finger playfully to his mouth: once he asked, "What 
do you mean by saying you are the redeemed of the Lord Jehovah, 
supremely omnipotent? don't you think that I am? I hope I am, 
and these gentlemen too." The tone and manner rendered these 
questions perplexing, and would have excited my ridicule, if my 
mind had not been too much occupied to give way to it. The reply 
perhaps most on my tongue was, Do you take me for a child? do 
you think I do and suffer all I have gone through without reason? 
They suited their behaviour to that which I appeared to be, taking 
advantage of my weakness, instead of correcting it Because I did 
not respect myself, they disrespected me; whereas they should 
have brought me to my senses by greater reserve and respect. They 
forgot that, amidst all my lunatic childishness and simplicity, I 
was a grown-up man, and probably knew not myself. And if it is 
true of any creature, that he knoweth not of what spirit he is, it is 
strikingly true of a lunatic. 

The first and most blameable error of the doctor was to place 
me in a noisy and crowded parlour, the common sitting-room of 
the madmen. He a physician; I, a nervous patient, and a gentle- 
man. The conduct of my relations was as blameable, to leave 
me so far from home, under the guidance of men, complete 
strangers to me and to them, and my inferiors in rank and profes- 
sion, careless or wittingly exposing me to so much rude contact 
and observation. Had I been lunatic on any ordinary subject, it 
would have been their duty to have reflected, that in all probability 
my conscience was affected, and that I might require a friend and 
a clergyman, to whom to confide my troubles. But they knew that 
my mind was deranged by overstudy on religion. And they left me 
exposed to strangers, and what is still more humbling to human 
nature, and to the pride and religion of my country, they who stand 
in no mean situation for wealth, talents, rank, or morality they 
who are not merely fashionable professors of religion, and many 
of whom are even zealous in evangelical opinions, took so little 
thought, as to consign my soul and spirit, in the hour of my utmost 
need, to the absolute control of a physician who was a sectarian, 
whilst my body was committed to his menials. Dr. F. had been a 



124 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

member o the Society of Friends; and, naturally enough, the 
spirit of the burlesque doctrines of that sect crept into his system, 
where they only warred with the interests of the patient; so that 
when, in the next year, I complained of the degrading footing of 
familiarity on which I had been placed with the domestics, and of 
the conduct in which they had been allowed towards me, he re- 
plied to me, in a letter to this effect, "Had not Jesus made us all 
equal?" 

Placed amongst strangers, the idea of opening my thoughts 
and unburdening my spirit to them scarcely entered my mind. 
Confession and confidence were acts from which, however salutary, 
I was precluded. Deranged and imbecile as I was, I was not yet 
so brutal as those who left me, and exposed me to the temptation of 
unveiling the secrets of my conscience; of betraying the dealings 
of God with me to individuals unknown to me; of laying myself 
open to their secret and prying curiosity; and my weaknesses, first, 
to their inward ridicule, then to their outward mocking; to be 
forced to run this hazard, or to have my mind preyed upon by its 
agonies, was cruel. At that time I shrunk even from crying out the 
sentences the spirits dictated to me, acknowledging my ruin. Since 
then, my sufferings, my despair of being attended to, have hardened 
me, and made me reckless. 

When I began first to write to my mother and my brother, 
complaining of my situation, and aware of my state, my feelings 
were acute in this respect, and my instances earnest and repeated 
that my correspondence should be private. Delicacy towards my 
family, if only that, dictated this. I received no attention. The 
same bigotted credulity that abandoned my person and soul to the 
doctor's management, abandoned also the secrets of my heart to 
his impertinent examination. I cannot describe the hatred with 
which the recollection of this conduct still inspires me: then I 
hated, I despised, I was enraged, I became hardened. I loathed 
myself for keeping any terms with my relations and those around 
me. In the end, I scoffed at religion; I blasphemed the name and 
nature of God. The doctor alone benefited; for his benefit it was 
designed. Liable to his subtle misrepresentation, I concealed and 
disguised my feelings, or wrote for his inspection, braving his 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 125 

malice and duplicity. My real distresses I left to time or chance to 
take away, or to unravel. I was brutalized. 

Thus, in a state of derangement, I was abandoned to my fate, 
and so condemned, that I could not seek health by sane conduct 
I could not recover sanity, but by ways which can alone be justi- 
fied by insanity; from which I shrunk, even insane: ways, which 
the very nature of a sound understanding, the very nature of 
humane feeling, make impossible. But this is one example only. 
When I grew older in my afflictions, I found that no patient could 
escape from his confinement in a truly sound state of mind, with- 
out lying against his conscience, or admitting the doctrine, that 
deception and duplicity are consistent with a sound conscience. 
Those who do otherwise are not sane, they are living in a lie. But 
what does that signify? they are good subjects, and the doctor's 
best friends. 



CHAPTER XXIII 



I RECOLLECT, when I first began to be aware of the insults and 
affronts put upon me with my daily food, and felt the impropriety 
of my situation, I still did not accuse or lay the charge to the 
doctor indiscriminately; but I determined to seek information 
before I judged. Mankind will, I think, consider it an affecting 
sight, when they behold a young gentleman, at the dawn of re- 
turning light, awakened to the consciousness of the cruelties 
around him; of the advantage that had been taken of his darkness; 
of the degrading treatment he was exposed to, yet examining and 
hesitating before he condemned. I reasoned with myself, for I was 
without a friend, first as a citizen, then as a private individual: 
as an Englishman, I laid charge to the government, to the magis- 
trates; more especially to the prelates, who supinely abandoned 
the trust committed to them, over the souls of the diseased mem- 
bers of the church, to the doctors, who serve as eyes to the magis- 
trates. But these were evils I could not remedy. As a private in- 
dividual, I knew not which most to blame, the doctor or my family. 
I recollected the two or three first days of treatment; my private 
parlour, my meals neatly served, the silver forks, &c., and I 
doubted whether, for my misconduct, I had not been degraded; 
and had my family been made acquainted with the change, or 
was the doctor imposing upon them. Therefore, in great distress of 
mind and anxiety, I wrote to my mother, stating my complaints, 
asking if they were aware of my position, and insisting upon a 
private apartment, and a servant to attend on me alone. Part of 
the answer I received was to the effect, that my elder brother 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 127 

thought that I was to have a room to myself, or that I was to be 
allowed to go to my bed-room. I was shocked at the indifference 
which this uncertainty betrayed. When I wrote that letter, I still 
considered more the evil effect my misfortunes might have had on 
the inclinations of my mother and sisters to believe the doctrines 
of the Row heresy, to which I yet adhered, than my own necessities. 
I put several questions connected with my peace of mind. I 
received no answer to them. What I wrote, I saw on the paper, 
or heard dictated before I put it down; often printing it in capital 
or other letters, as I saw it printed. But I wrote in trouble and 
agony, abruptly and without much connexion; which was not 
surprising, for I was not alone.* 

I was then in the small parlour with three other gentlemen 
with whom for a few days past I had been allowed to dine and 
pass the evening there: probably selected on account of our better 
behaviour, and because the room below was too crowded. I wrote 
the letter under the promise three times given me before I sent it, 
by Dr. F. F., that it should not be opened. I knew that I was ex- 

* The above was written in Paris last year from memory. Since my return 
to London, I find, on referring to papers I have preserved, that my first letter 
was written on or about the agth of November; for I have a copy of a letter I 
commenced on that day, which I afterwards altered: it was to my elder brother. 
This letter was detained until about the ssnd of December; for I find the copy 
of an envelope, dated the igth of December, and directed to my brother, in 
which I complain of the detention of that letter, and enclose one to my mother, 
written about the nth of December. These letters, and others, I have thrown 
into an appendix to this volume, not to break the thread of the text, and to 
prevent any further delay in this publication. 

I acknowledge I am confounded at the bare-faced impudence of the doctor 
in detaining my first letter so long. I do not know whether to attribute it to 
cowardice, from a consciousness that I was not entirely wrong in my accusa- 
tions, and to his knowledge of the security and impunity with which he could 
treat me so unjustly, or to his habitual indifference to complaints of the 
patients against his system, from the infatuated prepossession that his asylum 
was a second paradise. The excuse that he made to me was, that he hoped I 
should see fit to change my sentiments before I wrote to my mother, that he 
was loath to send a letter that might wound their feelings. 

I know what I know. But in this world I must talk of a supreme and 
benevolent Providence, and of certain individuals being honourable and sincere, 
or be ejected from society. I know too little, or too much; too much, without 
more courage to act according to my understanding; too little, without more 
understanding to put my knowledge in practice. 



128 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

pressing myself without control over my feelings, and my delicacy 
and modesty shrunk from what I wrote being disclosed to strangers, 
or pried into by self-interested, empirical, or idle curiosity. I had 
also other reasons that I did not like Dr. F. to be aware that 
I was suspecting him of dishonesty, or to charge him with it with- 
out grounds, and I might betray family matters. My letter how- 
ever was opened by old Dr. F.; this was communicated to me the 
day after I had delivered it into the hands of Dr. F. F., when 
dining with the latter and his wife. My first expression after that 
of astonishment was, "Well, I am glad of it," for I only felt, then 
the Dr. knows the state of my feelings not by my fault. But I 
afterwards felt exposed, insulted, indignant, betrayed, when I 
recollected other parts of the letter, and foresaw that I could have 
no peace in communicating with my family, unless I was secure 
of the privacy of my correspondence. If they had not been de- 
ceived, they were perhaps unworthy of my concern. I insisted on 
that privacy as much for their sakes as mine: but although re- 
peatedly mentioned by me, my request was not even once alluded 
to; yet even although it might have been an excessively extrava- 
gant request, if it gave me peace of mind, it was right to have 
attended to it. This silent, and as I felt it, contumelious con- 
tempt of my most earnest request, and expostulations, repeated 
on several occasions nearly drove me mad. If the show of an argu- 
ment for not acceding to so simple and usual a wish had been 
given me, that would have proved attention at least, and some 
sort of respect: but to be passed over in silence, and apparently for 
the very reason, that a reason ought to have been given, because 
I was myself bereft of reason. I could not make it out, and I could 
not endure it. Now after these things, when I upbraided my 
family for their contempt, they argued from my accusation that 
I was a madman; because how could I imagine that such kind, 
excellent, affectionate relatives, wished to show me contempt. 
Not reflecting and I wrote back to them that contempt is con- 
tempt, but that the wish to show contempt is flattering to the 
pride and vanity of the object of it, because he knows that the 
contempt is affected. Henceforward, however, this was the hopeful 
tribunal to which I had to appeal for three years, they judging 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 129 

themselves and their conduct by their own excellent opinion of 
themselves, and me as a madman, for accusing such excellence, 
and refusing me my appeal to a jury, my appeal to law, my rights 
and privileges, on the plea that I should at length confess my 
errors, and be sorry to have so dealt with such excellent people, 
who left me in the mean time to pine and rot in a lunatic asylum. 

To return to my letter, I obtained also, three times, a promise 
from Dr. F. F. that it should be forwarded immediately. Con- 
sider my wretched circumstances, consider my state of mind, my 
state of health, the resentment I felt at the treatment I had al- 
ready endured, the acute suffering that treatment still occasioned 
me, my suspense, believing my letter to be sent, and no answer; 
and then you may conceive my danger, my exasperation, my 
despair, when on inquiry, many weeks after the letter was written, 
I found it had not been sent. Dr. F., with empirical sagacity, 
wanted me to write something more connected, to alter the ex- 
pressions concerning his asylum more favourably. Yet on his 
son's deprecating my sending such a letter to my family, whilst 
I was yet writing it, and when I asked him for his last promise to 
send it without reading it, I showed him the words which I had 
written, explaining the reason why I preferred sending my scrawl 
as it was, to correcting it; whilst I covered with my hands the rest 
of the letter. My reasons were, that my brother's considering my 
hand-writing and my style, might try to find out for me the cause 
of, or the mystery of my malady. Poor fool! I might as well have 
written to the stones, or to the winds. They showed me no real 
desire to inquire, no delicacy, no beauty of feeling. 

They who have not been confined in a lunatic asylum, cannot 
conceive the dreadful and cruel suspense that delay, and not only 
the neglect, but the refusal of every day civilities, together with 
inattention to just and obvious complaints, occasion. They do 
not know our wants and fears, because they do not know the 
danger we are in. They may judge our danger, however, from 
what these men do; and from what they have done, they may 
judge what they dare to do: being encompassed, even more than 
a king, with a hollow impunity, and clothed in the deepest hy- 
pocrisy. They who have not endured this confinement do not 



igo PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

know how the very suspicion of being a lunatic, coupled with 
being cut off from all pecuniary resources, shuts the minds of oth- 
ers against sympathy, impedes the proffer of assistance and the 
exercise of protection, and aught but the show of pity. Neither 
how it embarrasses the suppliant in his applications for redress, 
awakens anxiety, excites mistrust, and closes the door of his 
hopes; whilst he finds himself left defenceless to the sarcasm and 
persecutions of those he is accusing. This is an awful peril for a 
man in a sound mind to be exposed to, lest he become deranged; 
lest he be tempted to violence, the object of his tormentors, 
which would then be construed into an open act of insanity; and 
if not immediately accepted as damning proof, by imbecile magis- 
trates, at least cruelly try the mind, by tantalizing the expecta- 
tions. How much more fearful is such a trial for one who knows 
that he cannot plead innocence of lunacy; one who, in mind and 
bodily health, is weak, and thereby more exposed than another 
to follow a wrong course; exposed to suffer even from treatment 
which men in sound health might almost laugh at, still more 
from that which he dreads from having experienced it, and against 
which he is exasperated; and also, still more liable than the other 
to lose that gift, lately lost, so dear now, being newly restored to 
him, the gift of a sound mind, and convalescent health; perish- 
ing again from want of wholesome communion, shattered by 
assault, or insidiously undermined. 

By this time I had broken off all friendly intercourse with 
the Drs. F. He had explained to me that he acted with the sanc- 
tion of my family, and they, by his guidance: and my eldest 
brother in a letter stated, only (so loosely had he acted) that he 
thought some agreement had been made with regard to my hav- 
ing a private apartment; but on further reflection, as my mind 
grew stronger, considering my rights and my state more accurately, 
I concluded that the doctor was responsible to me, that he had 
forfeited claim to my respect, and deserved great blame, both 
as a physician and as a man of honour and gentlemanly feeling, 
in exposing me in a state of nervous excitement and great weak- 
ness, to the violence, confusion, and open observation of the so- 
ciety and servants in his common room: particularly when he 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 131 

knew my name, and the kind of society in which I had lived, to 
which I had been brought up; and the circumstances of my 
illness. As my fall was great, so was my trial severe, and his 
conduct the more highly to be censured. But the year before, an 
officer in the army, now to be put under the sticks, the fists, the 
knees of his menials, at their discretion: deranged through en- 
thusiastically religious principles, and left amongst a motley group 
of blaspheming, infidel, and irreligious lunatics. Yesterday a 
gentleman, moving in the most refined and honourable circles, 
to-day in a room full of fanatics coarse even by habits, and of 
vulgar education; to select such a time to heap all these painful 
trials and cruel contrasts upon mel But no matter; the ruin of the 
soul has been accomplished; the work of villany has been done; 
what is now the use of complaint, what the use of remonstrat- 
ing against such bare-faced and impudent mockery: moreover, 
I did not feel it then; I could not resent their cruelties; I was 
overwhelmed by other afflictions: the waves that wash over the 
body of a drowned man shock and lift the limbs, it is true; but 
they fall again on the sands, listless and impassible. Be it sup- 
posed, I did not feel it then. 

The want of feeling with which we were treated, however, is 
difficult to be credited, and the degree of folly to which it pro- 
ceeded, scarcely to be imagined. Communications, when they 
came from our families, were made to us in the presence of the 
rest, viva voce. Letters were given to us to read, and materials to 
write, in public. I received no tidings from my family, as near as 
I can guess, for three months: I understood afterwards, from my 
mother, when released, that in this, as in other parts of her con- 
duct, equally contrary to nature and reason, she obeyed the advice 
of the doctor. They had got a stranger into their nets, and they 
were determined to keep him all to themselves. I am surprised at 
their self-sufficiency and impertinence. The natural result of this 
neglect was to produce in my mind surprise, wonder, a sense of 
strangeness in my situation, and alarm, to find a satisfactory clue to 
which, I had nothing but a disordered imagination to draw upon, 
which supplied me, as I have indicated, with ludicrous and hor- 
rible ideas enow. I was led also to entertain a mean opinion of 



132 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

myself, and to condemn myself by too severe a judgment. So 
that when I began to address my friends, I was at a loss to know 
how to approach them. What was I to augur from their silence; 
had they cast me off? did they look on me as a reprobate? did 
they scout me? 

At last, a message in a letter, or a letter to me, was delivered 
to me in the common room one forenoon. It was from my mother. 
Either on that, or on a subsequent occasion later in the year, 1 
was asked if I would write an answer. I applied to my spirits, as 
usual, for guidance as to the feelings I was to express, the acts 
I was to perform. I hallooed aloud, and behaved boisterously by 
their direction. I got pen, ink, and paper brought to me, and a 
table; kicked them over; had them replaced; and at length wrote 
to my mother to this effect: "that I was so happy where I was; 
that I loved the people so about me; that I longed to come to 

E , and to bring Herminet Herbert with me," and I alluded 

to my spiritual friend, Mr. Waldony. I wrote with great per- 
plexity, and opposition from many of the spirits. Unfortunately, 
my family were too willing to believe this silly rhapsody, although 
there were a few words that might have afforded them a clue 
to the truth; and I was informed, when released, that the con- 
tents of that letter greatly influenced them in rejecting the com- 
plaints I made, when I began really to appreciate my situation. 
I did not call to mind what I had written, until they recalled it 
to my recollection; and I was then very angry that my family 
had never frankly alluded to my previous statements, in order 
that I might have come to an explanation. I wrote two or three 
short letters in the same style: in the last, I begged my mother 
to excuse me from replying to her, as it gave me great pain. I 
then did not hear from her for a long time, and I was afraid 
she understood that receiving the letters she wrote gave me pain. 
My meaning was, that I could not answer her for the contest of 
my spirits; for many came to write for me, or to dictate to me, and 
I became agitated, and vexed which to put faith in, which to 
choose. In other words, I imagine it was a contest of mind, be- 
tween the spirit of a right understanding and the spirits of delu- 
sion. Had I been alone, I might by chance have written soundly, 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 133 

my senses being calmer and more collected. But besides the de- 
lusions and the simplicity which obscured my intellect, I doubt 
not that my sorrows and sufferings, called for actions and ex- 
pressions I unconsciously shrunk from before strangers; and if 
I behaved in an unusual manner, if my agitation made me leave 
the table, or lay down my pen; if I wandered in my attention, 
one of the servants would come and incite me to go on, or take 
away pen, ink, and paper together, saying, "what's the use of 
giving it to you if you make no use of it;" or "come, come I 
think you have written enough for to-day;" then another entering 
the room, and staring at me, cried out, "has he finished the letter 
yet," and if not, then "take it away, take it away from him; hell 
be all the day about it." 



CHAPTER XXIV 



IN June, about the time of hay-making, my eldest brother, on 

his way from T after his election, called to see me. I was 

unfastened, led into another patient's room, and dressed in a new 
suit of clothes, like a boy at a private school, and taken into 
the entrance room to see him. After speaking to him, some 
gooseberry pie was offered to me; and then I walked out with 
my brother and the keeper; tried to throw myself over the stiles 
as usual, and came home. Next day, I again walked out with 
him; he took me to a seat, where he asked me to explain him a 
proposition in Euclid, which I comprehended perfectly, but was 
prevented by my spirits from following consecutively; it seemed 
to me as if I had other business; and I thought he was come to 
try me, and was inspired to know all my thoughts. From the 
seat I drew a sketch, with some difficulty, partly guided by the 
spirits, partly of my own handy-work; and I desired him to give 
it to my elder sister. My brother took leave of me in the evening, 
in the common room, at tea time. I was then fastened up in the 
niche. I was told by the voices that he would have taken me to 

E [Ealing], which my heart was set upon, if I had performed 

one extravagant act or another, which I had failed in, or refused 
to do. 

Before my brother's arrival, or soon after, my mother had 
desired the doctor to supply me with books, and had written to 
know what books I should like to have sent to me. She had also 
desired them to propose to me to draw and to learn the flute; 
Mr. H. F. asked me to read Virgil with him, and Dr. F. F. sug- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 135 

gested the occupation of turning. I sent for a Euclid and my 
Hebrew Bible; I agreed to try my hand at drawing, and a school- 
boy's copy-book and one pencil were given to me. Was it intended 
to turn me to ridicule? to provoke me to exercise my judgment? 
or, was it from simplicity and hypocrisy; pretending to do what 
they cared nothing about? As to the music-master, I did not be- 
lieve that the offer was sincere. I thought that they came to try 
me, and at any rate that it was of no use, for though I could 
understand what I read, and might blow on the flute, I knew I 
could not apply to study, until I understood the calls of the spirits, 
and how to follow or reconcile their directions. In the same 
season, I was astonished at Dr. F. F. proposing to me the use of 
a turning machine: and I could not believe his sincerity, for I 
knew the first day I should put my finger where it would be 
crushed, in obedience to a voice of one kind or of another. I 
asked for Gibbon's Roman History, but it was never brought to 
me, and as they fought off from this request, my suspicions were 
increased. Long after, when books were again offered to me, I 
again asked for the History of the Decline and Fall of the 
Roman Empire, instead of which I was presented to my amuse- 
ment with the history of the Lew-chew Islands. But, Herminet 
Herbert (Hobbs) exercised a summary control over all these petty 
occupations, and on one pretence or another often took my 
pencil and books away from me, or prevented me bringing them 
down stairs. Small as these means were, they doubtless aided my 
recovery; occupying me on realities, and for a time rescuing me 
from sloth, apathy, and idleness. It was one of my first complaints 
by letter, that they were taken away; and, I think, the only one 
that was immediately attended to. These attentions, such as they 
were, I owed chiefly to my mother's persevering instances, to- 
gether with other particular alterations. Unfortunately, I did not 
know until I was released, how much I had been even thus far 
indebted to her. 

My brother was evidently agonized at my appearance. His visit 
gave me self-confidence, and insured me some respect. More ad- 
vantage might have resulted from it, had my situation been more 
becoming. But a visit of this kind, and the style of delivery in 



136 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

which communications were made from our families, and the 
patients requested to reply to them, are instances o the mockery 
and treachery of such a system in a madhouse. By placing you 
in an unnatural and cruel situation, and at the same tune coun- 
selling your friends to keep aloof from you, in presence and in 
letter, they create the feelings which render it impossible for a 
man in a sound mind to receive intelligence from them at last, 
without extreme agitation: then they abruptly communicate that 
intelligence, or hand the letter to the patient, and neither con- 
sulting his modesty or his distress, deny him a little retirement 
to read these lines in private. His feelings, at a time that he is 
declared incapable of controlling them, are thus called upon, in 
the very circumstances, from the cruelty of which he ought to 
have been preserved, by those from whom he hears, for which 
they ought at least to express their sympathy, and regret, if not 
atone and apologize. But no, the letter contains a mere meagre 
account of every day occurrences; cold, unmeaning, paltry trivial- 
ities, trifling with the time and tone of a mind whose imagination 
is strung up to the highest pitch of delicate and romantic en- 
thusiasm. The violence, or agitation, or ridiculous conduct that 
ensues, is then attributed to the receipt of the letter, instead of 
to the brutal heedlessness with which it is delivered. But this is 
in favour of the doctor. Another apparent cause is given for with- 
holding at least, if not denying altogether, one rational mean of 
a patient's recovery; and however specious may be their conduct, 
and their excuses to mankind and to themselves, their end is to 
make money, not to make whole; and their system is adapted in 
one way or another to this end: whilst the essential interests, the 
mental wants of the inmates of their prisons are neglected. It 
stands to reason. Tie an active limbed, active minded, actively 
imagining young man in bed, hand and foot, for a fortnight, 
drench him with medicines, slops, clysters; when reduced to the 
extreme of nervous debility, and his derangement is success- 
fully confirmed, manacle him down for twenty-four hours in the 
cabin of a ship; then for a whole year shut him up from six A.M. 
to eight P.M. regardless of his former habits, in a room full of 
strangers, ranting, noisy, quarrelsome, revolting, madmen; give 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 137 

him no tonic medicines, no peculiar treatment or attention, leave 
him to a nondescript domestic, now brushing his clothes, sweep- 
ing the floors, serving at table, now his companion out of doors, 
now his bed-room companion; now throwing him on the floor, 
kneeling on him, striking him under all these distressing and 
perplexing circumstances; debar him from all conversation with 
his superiors, all communication with his friends, all insight into 
their motives, every impression of sane and well-behaved society! 
surprise him on all occasions, never leave harassing him night or 
day, or at meals; whether you bleed him to death, or cut his hair, 
show the same utter contempt for his will or inclination; do all in 
your power to crush every germ of self-respect that may yet re- 
main, or rise up in his bosom; manacle him as you would a felon; 
expose him to ridicule, and give him no opportunity of retire- 
ment or self-reflection; and what are you to expect. And whose 
agents are you; those of God or of Satan? And what good can you 
reasonably dare to expect? and whose profit is really intended? 

Gentlemen of England, the system I have described is not only 
the system of English men, it is the disgrace of English surgeons, 
of English physicians. It is practised or connived at by the inno- 
cent simplicity of that race of presuming upstarts, who in various 
guises admitted by your condescension to terms of familiarity, 
sit at your tables, hiding their conceit in a false humility and 
in silky smiles; whilst they ape your manners and dupe your 
generosity. Be assured, whoever ye are, who have to deal with 
children or lunatics, if you are not looking after them yourselves, 
you are not respecting them. The doctors know that, and take 
advantage of it, to construe your disrespect into worse even than 
it is. Their servants take advantage of it Bystanders draw false 
conclusions from it, much rather the poor object of it. His nature 
resents it; 'though he is not always aware of anything but his de- 
lusions: and his delusions contending with his feelings for the 
mastery over hi, make him a madman. His self-respect, also, 
for so he respected himself partly for your sakes, is destroyed; and 
he delivers himself up to every grovelling thought and lewd idea, 
reckless on account of your ingratitude; even if his weakness and 
total want of wholesome exercise, wholesome occupation, and 



138 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

wholesome repose, does not render such a surrender inevitable. 
If, however, he has sense to resent consciously your desertion, he 
has also ten to one the high-mindedness to do it by scorn, con- 
tempt, and silence on his part; perhaps he does so by expressions 
of hatred and attempts at violence in your presence, devoid of 
discretion, and impotent over his revenge. These the doctor, 
consciously or not, easily gets you to interpret into signs of the 
complaint, when they are in truth the signs of his devilish treat- 
ment, and of the patient's unguarded honesty: which, also, a 
few respectful words of repentance from you might make vanish 
like the morning mists. Not however, if you repent only to offend 
again; if you mock at one who, whatever may be the source, is 
preternaturally enlightened. I am sure that no lunatic who has 
undergone the trials I describe, can meet his family on terms of 
cordiality, but through practising dissimulation, or through being 
a simpleton. At this distance of time, I cannot forgive my family 
the guilt they incurred by their abandonment of me. I am at 
a loss to find any argument which will justify me in doing so: I 
dare not expect to be able to do so. But if haply perfection re- 
quires this moral excellence, by what happy fortune are you en- 
titled to look for it in the inmates of a lunatic asylum? 

I have complained that the behaviour adopted towards me, 
was calculated to humour the state of mind I was then in, not 
to correct. The servant, for instance, whom I used to call Jesus, 
and Herminet Herbert, ran with me, jumped, joked, walked arm 
in arm with me, rattled the spoons in my face as he put them 
into the cupboard, pulled me by the nose, fcc. &c. If I was not 
insensible to the impropriety of this familiarity, at least, I could 
not express my sense of it. But it will be evident, this was not the 
way to correct a gentleman's diseased mind. This conduct may 
be partly accounted for by having been placed under a quondam 
Quaker, to whom in theory and in practice, as far as it only inter- 
fered with others, and suited his interests, perfect equality of rich 
and poor was a matter of faith. There was, however, this unfair- 
ness in it, that I observed the joke ceased whenever the domestic 
had had enough of it. The lunatic's presence of mind and tran- 
quillity might be broken in upon, but not so the keeper's. There 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 139 

was but one step from joking with them to violence and ob- 
jurgation. Later in the year, a young handsome lad used to 
invite me to box with him every evening in my bed-room, striking 
me in sport a few blows: at length, I expressed a kind of awkward 
resentment at it. I have perhaps written enough on this subject. 



CHAPTER XXV 



ONE Sunday morning, old Dr. F. entered the common room 
as usual; and on his entrance I, who was tied hand and foot, sang 
the psalm, "O be joyful," &c. to the edification of those present 
The doctor tottered up to me on his cane, and argued against the 
impropriety of my conduct in singing, in such a place, such a 
psalm on a Sunday morning. This was the kindest and most rea- 
sonable address made to me during my imbecility in that mad- 
house. But it was lost upon me, because I did not believe it sin- 
cere. My spirits had told me to sing the psalm in his honor, and 
purposely to please him. That I was not to mind what he said, 
because he spoke so to see if I preferred serving God or him; and 
that he was really delighted to hear me sing it, as a proof that I 
was returning to a sense of my duty to the Lord Jehovah; and try- 
ing to fulfil my mission as an angel who was to sing his praises. 
Sunday morning appeared to me an additional reason. His using 
that argument aided the spirits in deluding me. Therefore as 
soon as he re-entered the room from the yard, I pealed forth again, 
"O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands," though not so decidedly. 
His word helped to make me doubt the word of the spirits. 

One forenoon, after I was allowed to walk out in the common 
room and yard, Mr. F. F. whilst standing near me and three other 

patients, asked me suddenly before them, "Pray, Mr, was it 

your father who was shot in the house of Commons?" I do not 
know whether I replied; but I recollect being greatly troubled 
by my spirits to make a reply, though inwardly at peace. I then 
looked silently in the faces of the bystanders, and then turned 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 141 

my back on him, and walked away to meditate on what had oc- 
curred, alone. I will not say what I feel now. The next part of 
the treatment I will allude to, is my having been walked about the 
grounds and the country in a state of insanity. The chief thing 
to be desired in the treatment of an insane person (as any but 
charlatans would have inferred from the name they give them, 
"nervous patient'') is quiet, peace, security; security from in- 
trusion, observation, exposure. A lunatic appears insensible, but 
his is, perhaps, the most alive of any mind to ridicule, and to 
the contemptibleness of his state. But he is, as I may say, uncon- 
sciously alive to it. He does not acknowledge his own feelings, 
because his mind is deeply engrossed in painful and excruciating 
conflicts; he is already troubled by a thousand horrible and fanci- 
ful ideas of danger; the victim of inward and preternatural sar- 
casm, contumely, and derision. But he acts strangely, from what 
he suffers unacknowledged and not understood by himself. If 
indeed, he were in quiet, peaceful circumstances, if he were se- 
cure he might find his mind reflect to his conscience perfectly, 
what the trouble occasioned by internal and external alarm pre- 
vents him noting; but the opposite is his position. 

Though all men in the world are daily acting more or less 
from these unacknowledged sensations, I shall not be understood 
without mentioning an example. Whenever I went out to walk, 
on leaving the common room and turning round to the left 
into the passage, I had to pass by the door of the housekeeper's 
room, before I reached the hall door. Into this room I often ran 
from my keeper at the command of one or other of the spirits, and 
began to admire the maid's work-baskets, and similar objects which, 
though trifling, appeared to me so simple, neat, and beautiful. I 
used often to wonder at myself, and to be surprised, that what 
formerly I passed over with neglect, now so greatly attracted me. 
When I was in a great measure recovered from my delusions, and 
in better health, keeping also a constant and minute watch and 
control over my actions, and observing the causes of them, I 
went out, one day, walking as usual, when on passing the door of 
that room, I observed the shadows and voices of persons entering 
the hall door on the right. I ran immediately, as formerly, into 



142 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

the housekeeper's room, unable to check the impulse. I recollected 
myself, however, and then recognised that it was acute sensitive- 
ness or shyness; the consciousness of my being unfit for the eye 
of man to look upon, that caused me to rush into the servants' 
apartments, with whom I was in some degree familiarized, rather 
than meet the gaze of a stranger. I said instantly to myself 
"then the physician is unconscious that we have any feeling; 
and is mistaken in his system." I felt the hopelessness of my situ- 
ation, at the same time that I saw how necessary seclusion was 
for my happiness and peace of mind, to preserve me from acts 
of folly. 

From what I state, it will be obvious how improper for many 
patients any exposure, or any conduct likely to draw attention 
on them in particular must be. Nature tells a man, who has any 
great grief, to be for a time secluded. Nature makes a man, sensible 
of any great infirmity, seek retirement, still more under such an 
awful infliction as insanity, when from the proud station of a 
reasonable being, he is degraded below the beasts of the field: 
fallen from his throne; bereft of his dominion. Nature, however, 
comes not into any part of the doctor's plans, but self-interest. 
He does not consider what is the sanest treatment for the sufferers, 
but what will attract most customers. They see the patients ap- 
parently unconscious to the shame of their situation; and that 
conduct, which really proceeds from an unacknowledged sense 
of it, they look upon as a sign of the specific disease they labour 
under. They act then according to that they find, instead of re- 
flecting that want of sense is probably part of the disease, and 
that it is their duty to restore a sense of propriety by more regard 
on their part, not to harden the feelings by constant exposure. 
I may apply the same remarks to the custom of walking me about 
the grounds, where I met the carriages of the visitors, and others 
about the farm-houses, and subsequently, with a string of patients 
through the villages: what could be more painful to a man of 
any feeling? what could be more dangerous if you wished to re- 
store good-feeling? what more cruel if it was the design to probe 
the feelings, through a heart already broken down, and benumbed 
by disease and affliction? 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 143 

I may be wrong, but I cannot help suspecting that it was 
the key to Dr. F.'s system to probe the feelings; if not, why put 
such brutal questions? why take the patients by surprise at the 
visit of relations? why expose them in public to receive private 
communications? why insult them and degrade them in every 
circumstance of domestic life, toilette, meals, couch, 8cc. 8cc.; be- 
sides on one occasion, when I remarked to Marshall that the 
boots were not very well cleaned, he replied with his strong nasal 
twang, "they'll be better when you get out, d'ye see." 

When I began to make remonstrances with my family, I com- 
plained of the absurdity of their having allowed me to be ex- 
posed in this manner, at the same time that the professed object 
of my being detained so far from home, was the desire pretended 
for my retirement, to save my feelings in not meeting my friends. 
I alluded, amongst other facts, to my having been allowed and 
encouraged to go out to play at cricket, with strange gentlemen 
of the neighbourhood, whilst yet hallooing out, and acting under 
the wildest delusions. And when the propriety of my being in 
retirement was again recurred to as an argument, to prevent my 
confinement in London, or in a neighbourhood where I hoped 
to meet those who would truly befriend me, since my relations on 
pretence of duty, delicacy, or decency, abandoned me to the 
malice and economy of the doctor, I replied, that such an argu- 
ment was sheer mockery; that not my pride, not my delicacy, not 
my modesty were being consulted, not my care for privacy, but 
my family's desire to hide me; for otherwise they would make 
my privacy effectual by placing me in a private family as I re- 
quired; and whether was it better to have my griefs and infirmi- 
ties exposed to friends who would enter into my feelings, respect, 
pity, and protect me, or to the strange tenantry, strange house- 
hold, strange patients, and strange visitors of a doctor perfectly 
unknown to me, except through his stupid inhumanity. 

sirs! the conduct I have had to endure, the gauntlet I have 
had to run through was dreadful; but it cannot be remedied now; 
when my mind recurs to it, it is too great to be resented articu- 
lately. 

1 desired my family to order Dr. F, to let me walk nowhere 



144 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

but in his kitchen garden, the place least liable to the intrusion 
of strangers, and that I might be alone. This was attended to; 
and I am thankful it was, otherwise I might never have been 
restored to LIBERTY.* 

* One afternoon, a thunderstorm came on whilst we were in the field at 
cricket; my spirits were then as usual puzzling me, when suddenly a rattling 
peal of thunder shook the vault of the heavens, to my ears it articulated the 
most terrible imprecations, and I stood mute with astonishment, expecting 
almost to be struck to the earth by the lightning, and doubting whether to 
attribute my being spared to the mercy and long suffering of God, or to the 
infinite counsels of his wrath reserving me for greater damnation. A passage 
of Scripture has since been brought to my mind, when a voice came from 
heaven, but some said it thundered. 



CHAPTER XXVI 



MY recovery was very gradual, but its periods remarkable. 
Three times my spirits prophesied to me, that a great change 
would take place in my situation. I expected a marvel, but the 
change took place in me, by natural causes, altering my apparent 
relationship to the persons around me. I had been continually 
haunted by the idea, that the sufferings I saw or fancied others 
enduring, were endured for me, and that it was my duty to try to 
partake in them or to alleviate them, or to perform some act of 
duty, for my neglect of which they were punished in my stead 
For instance, when one day I saw the young clergyman, Mr. J. 
fastened opposite to me in a niche, by an iron manacle to the 
wall; in great agitation I prayed the servant not to do so, but 
to put it on me instead. For he had been kind to me, and I heard 
the spirits say or sing to me, "Mr. J. is manacled for you." But 
after one of the prophecies mentioned above, I began to hear 
these words added to the message of the spirits, Mr. J. is man- 
acled, or suffocating, or whatever it might be, for you; to medi- 
tate on and reflect on too, or to think on with grief and con- 
trition too, and the like. Then I knew that I had been deceived; 
and my mind received quiet. I was relieved from the oppression 
that I was continually causing the misery of others by my mis- 
demeanours, and from the harass of being always called upon 
to perform some hazardous duty in order to relieve them. I be- 
gan to hesitate before I acted, waiting on any appeal from a 
spirit, to hear if no interpretation or additional sentence ex- 
plained the first. I joked inwardly at the absurdity of my de- 



146 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

lusions. By this a great alteration took place in my mind. Ob- 
jects began to stand around me in a new light. I began to be 
less ready to give up the dictates of common sense, to the in- 
junctions of invisible agents. At another time, my spirits began 
singing to me in this strain. "You are in a lunatic asylum, if 
you will" "if not, you are in," &c. &c. "That is Samuel Hobbs 
if you will if not, it is Herminet Herbert," &c. &c. &c. But I 
had been so long deceived by my spirits that now I did not 
believe them when they spoke truth. However, by listening 
and finding that the patients called him Samuel Hobbs, and by 
other accidents, I discovered at last that I was yet on earth, in 
natural, although very painful, circumstances in a madhouse. My 
delusions being thus very much abolished, I soon after got liberty 
of limb during the day-time. 

Then new delusions succeeded those that were dissipated. I 
was on earth, it was true, in England and in a lunatic asylum; 
but I understood that it was the law of the land, that those lunatics 
who after a certain trial did not recover should be made away 
with, in order to spare the country the expense of maintaining 
them. I was still a disobedient angel whom the Lord had made 
pass for a lunatic in order to preserve me. But I was watched 
with jealousy. Several times my spirits indicated to me a gentle- 
man who was, I afterwards discovered, a patient in another ward, 
as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had come down pur- 
posely to examine and report upon my case. He was not the only 
person I dignified with title and office. Before that, when the 
magistrates paid their first visit, I imagined that one was the Lord 
Eldon, the other Mr. Goulburn, and a third my mother's attorney. 
They had come to look after me, both out of respect to my father, 
and from the peculiar interest that my case excited. But, when I 
came to see my delusions, I received these grave old useless gentle- 
men with bursts of laughter, both at their demeanour, and at the 
absurdity of my deception. I shook off the greatest part of my 
delusions a short time before the riots at Bristol. 

About this time, one of my brothers came to see me. I did not 
receive him very kindly. I was beginning to suspect that my family 
had behaved ill to me, though unable to express myself, or to ar- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 147 

range my ideas. There was an inquisitiveness also in my brother's 
manner which I did not think becoming, accompanied with the 

same tone of suspicion I had observed in the Mr. F s', which 

wounded my feelings and aroused my pride. During our con- 
versation, my brother asked me why I spoke with my mouth shut, 
and whether I had been used to do so. I did not understand the 
question, but on his repeating it, I put my hand up to my mouth 
when speaking, and to my surprise found that whilst I spoke I 
kept my teeth close together. Soon after, he noticed my hair was 
cut very dose and cropped in front, but long and full behind. 
I was not aware of that either until he drew my attention to it. 
He asked me if I liked it being cut so. I said to myself, if he is such 
a fool as to ask such a question, I am a fool to talk with him seri- 
ously; but I suspected that this was a part of the insulting system 
I had been submitted to, and that my brother asked me merely to 
try if I resented it. The absurdity of such a system, whoever 
imagined it, cannot be better evidenced than by my never having 
noticed the affront; and the result of it, when I noticed it, was, 
that I resolved to show no resentment, whatever I might feel. 
I then proposed taking a walk with my brother, to show him a 
view over to Bristol, which I admired very much. The attendant 
followed us, 

On returning, my brother went up with me to see my bed- 
room. He asked me also if I should like to see an aunt and a 
cousin, who were interested about me. I replied unfortunately, 
that I thought it would be of no use. I felt that I should only be 
grieving them, and that they could not find out for me the clue 
to those puzzling inspirations which troubled my mind. But their 
coming would no doubt have cheered and enlivened me, and as 
they both loved me, they might either have felt and remedied 
the impropriety of my situation, or have taken me home with 
them upon trial, for I was then perfectly inoffensive. In that case, 
ease, quiet, and security would have rapidly effectuated my cure. 

The same evening I dined with my brother at Dr. Fs. The 
conversation turned on Mr. Irving, and other topics: I did not 
feel satisfied with the style of those who took part in it. I heard 
all that was said; but I was conversing chiefly with my spirits. 



148 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

At one time they were teazing me about the manner in which I 
was to eat or leave my potatoes, and at last, not being able to 
please myself or them, I threw down my knife and fork on the 
plate: this attracted a moment's observation. Mr. F. F. said a 
few silly words in joke, and I resumed my tranquillity and gentle- 
ness. Next morning, being Sunday, I saw my brother again in 
Mr. F. F.'s company after church for about half an hour, on the 
lawn by the old doctor's house. I behaved very coolly, and I sup- 
pose he felt no encouragement to see me again. On Monday 
morning, he took leave of me at the hall door of the madhouse, 
and mounted one of the doctor's horses to ride into Bristol. He is 
no great horseman, and I re-entered the prison I was confined 
to with Samuel Hobbs, holding my arm, and laughing and quiz- 
zing at his want of jockeyship. 

I was sensible to the impertinence of this familiarity, but my 
feelings of resentment against my family made it in some sense 
not unpleasing, particularly as I thought there was an expression 
of sympathy in the man's countenance, and of disappointment 
at the result of my brother's visit. They have not touched the 
right string, he seemed to say, they have been too dull to guess 
the secret. To resent familiarity, however, on the part of the 
domestics, was to break through at once the whole system of polite 
education I had been submitted to. This man had walked arm 
in arm with me, recited Shakespeare to me, sang songs, trifled, 
fooled with me. His language was neither restrained by reverence 
or decency, and often he swore. He always talked in an insolent 
radical manner of the gentry. My spirits often desired me to re- 
buke him, when I was shocked at his oaths and language. But I 
refused; for, I replied, if these offences are really rebuke-worthy, 
I will keep my rebukes for those who really need them; not for 
those who sin designedly, to tempt me from curiosity, or from 
some other motive. Besides, I used to reply, if this is the Lord 
Jesus Christ, he cannot really sin, and I will not expose my want 
of faith and stupidity to ridicule and mockery by rebuking that, 
which since the universal redemption I have been informed of, is 
no more rebuke-worthy. But when I had recovered a sounder 
understanding, I knew that this man was substantially and indeed 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 149 

Samuel Hobbs, the servant of a doctor of lunatics, whatever might 
be his spiritual character. It fell out one afternoon, about the 
time of the Bristol riots, when the speech of our servants became 
very licentious, and the threats of what was to be done to the 
gentry very wondrous, and yet alarming, that he was sitting with 
his back towards the table, his feet upon the fender, and his pipe 
in his mouth, and slandering many great men, and the gentry 
generally. I then felt for my companion, Captain P. whom my 
spirits had called my spirit of family pride; and when at last he 
fell foul of the Duke of Wellington, I told him to hold his tongue, 
and to mind his own business; that the Duke of Wellington 
was a greater man than he or I were ever likely to be; and that 
till we could imitate his great actions, we might make allowance 
for his slight faults. After this, I never heard Samuel Hobbs 
speak disrespectfully of the nobility again. Whether or no he 
was ashamed of being rebuked by a madman, he acknowledged 
the justice of this reproof. 

No doubt Dr. F. and others will express their surprise on 
hearing these facts, and say they disown them to be, and ask why 
they were not complained of. I reply, would it not have been a 
sensible and a reasonable course to pursue, to complain of these 
things? Were not we confined because we were deranged in our 
reason, and bereft of our senses? Am not I right then in saying 
that the world, in their treatment of lunatics, are as insane as the 
lunatic himself, inasmuch as they expect from one expressly 
devoid of reason, the conduct of a reasonable being. Again, sup- 
posing that by chance one or two of the lunatics acknowledge 
the impropriety of the conduct that passes round them, yet, if 
their moral sense is not blunted to the enormity of it, by then- 
habitual degradation as well as by disease, why should they com- 
plain either to the magistrates or the doctor, when they do not 
know that such conduct is not connived at, when they know that 
whatever they say is looked upon with mistrust and suspicion, 
and that in either case they are left exposed to the malice and 
brutality of those whom they complain against; to whose evi- 
dence they may have to look also shortly for the recovery of their 
liberty. 



150 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

Soon after liberty of limb had been restored to me, my mother, 
to whose exertions I owe, after all, whatever was likely to restore 
me to sound reason whilst under the care of Dr. F., begged that I 
might be allowed to work in his garden; this was indeed bene- 
ficial, as it gave me occupation and more privacy. Later in the 
year I was employed with two gentlemen and a keeper, to cut out 
a small path in the shrubbery. I was entrusted with the mat- 
tock and the spade. My spirits however teazed me so much, by 
contrary directions, that after repeated trials I threw them down, 
contenting myself to wheel the barrow, to pick up sticks, and to 
handle the bill-hook. It was about the time of the Bristol riots. 
The seditious conversation and tone of the servants, and then- 
accounts of the state of mind of the peasantry, gave me great 
anxiety. The heavy dragoons were quartered in the neighbor- 
hood, and one day I saw a troop of them exercising their horses 
down the road. They talked loudly and swore. I augured ill 
of their trustworthiness and discipline from their conduct, and 
throwing down the sticks I had been collecting, I rushed into the 
thicket in tears, exclaiming, "oh! my country, oh! my country." 
Then my spirits checked me; I began to sing a psalm, and was 
beguiled by my delusions. At that time, I longed to see a train 
of artillery coming down the road, and looked for it daily; for I 
knew that they would keep order; but the government then acted 
the part of madmen if not worse. The night the city was on fire 
Hobbs and Poole came into my bed-room to see the flames; I was 
tied in bed; Poole proposed to untie me, that I might see it; 
but Hobbs replied, "Oh! no, no, he will only be playing his 
tricks." 

One day whilst working in this plantation, the string of 
patients passed us on their way home. Hobbs took me by the 
arm and laughed saying, "come let us see what you have been 
doing, they say you do nothing but pick up the sticks like an old 
woman." He came at last to the bundles I had collected to light 
his fire; he seemed to reflect, and was silent. 

Another day, old Benevolence presented me with a fine nettle, 
in white bloom which he had gathered in a hedge, and told me 
it was a green house plant. The size made me hesitate for a 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 151 

moment, but I saw immediately it was a joke. Then my behaviour 
in the asylum struck me in its true light; the scales fell from my 
eyes. I knew that I was looked upon as a child; what, thought J, 
you take me for a child, for a fool! but you do not know what 
has made me so! On another occasion whilst amusing myself 
with the bill-hook, an old clergyman came to me to request me 
to yield it up to him: I said, quietly, "No! I like to use it myself;" 
he went up to the keeper, and I saw them laughing heartily. I 
reflected then on what I had spoken, and could not help laughing 
myself, whilst I walked up to him and gave him the bill-hook. 

We were not the only gulls; Dr. F. had in his premises, on the 
lawn before the house, four or five fed, which had been brought 
from the sea. They strayed across the field into the plantation in 
which I was employed, and I drove them back with my pocket 
handkerchief. It was the first time I was trusted alone. A female 
came out and thanked me; then the sight of a female at all beau- 
tiful, was enchanting to me. 

I now began to recover my reflection rapidly, and to make 
observations upon characters and persons around me. I met the 
doctor who had bled me in the temporal artery, when going out 
one day at the hall door. Some o my spirits desired me to resent 
the manner in which this operation had been performed, with- 
out my permission, and in a brutal way; and I do to this day; but, 
others desired me to forgive him. These on the whole prevailed. 
I shook hands with him to show him that I bore him no ill-will; 
and on his alluding to my state, I said, "Oh! sir, I have been in 
a dream, a fearful dream, but it is gone now." 

I had asked Mr. F. F. for a pocket-book in order to know the 
date, and to keep memoranda. He gave it me one day out of a 
gig, whilst I was employed in the shrubbery: I vaulted over a 
gate to receive it. I had told him before this, that I should make 
my escape if I could, that I might not be accused of being guilty 
of breach of trust if I ran away. He remarked, I see you are 
active enough to attempt your threatened escape, but I suppose 
you do not really mean it. I replied, I really did. So simple was 
I, and so resolved. I should say that by this time my mind had 
arrived from a state of imbecility and infancy, through a state of 



152 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

childishness, to the simplicity of boyhood; open and undisguised, 
and designing adventures, without calculating its strength. 

Later in the year my imagination began to reflect the most 
divine and beautiful figures, in all kind of lascivious and wanton 
combination; until then my mind had been as chaste as it was 
free from malice. Now I saw these angelic forms, more beautiful 
than pictures, because they changed their attitudes, and sported 
in action. My spirits however told me that I had been looking 
on these scenes all the time that I was in the madhouse, that that 
was what they meant by heavenly places, and when I reminded 
them that I never had been able to get to heavenly places, they 
said that was my fault; that my spirit had been there, and that 
they had often desired me to come up there in one spirit or 
another; but that they could not help it if my spirit only came, 
and I chose to remain behind. With these visions I heard voices, 
reconciling me to the sight of, and desiring me to become a par- 
taker in the lewd acts I saw committing; obliterating my dis- 
gust, and all sense of guilty shame, and substituting a purer 
feeling of delicate submission and modest consent. The holiness 
of the images purified the imagery of all that was revolting; and 
if my spirit refused to acknowledge the pleasure I took in con- 
templating these scenes and actions, and the desire I had to par- 
take in them, then I was made to imagine as if in spirit I was forced 
to submit to the same, with every accompaniment of violence, 
insult, degradation, and sarcasm, as a puritanical and ungrate- 
ful hypocrite; undeserving of my Heavenly Father's love, in thus 
revealing his goodness to me, and unveiling his true nature, of 
which the world were ignorant, and kept in ignorance by him, 
through their hypocrisies, and malice, and envy one towards the 
other. 



CHAPTER XXVII 



I will now turn to the conduct and treatment of my wretched 
companions in confinement, and in affliction. I will begin with 
the oldest and most noisy of them all. A grey-haired, bald-headed, 
thin old gentleman, whom I first called Dr. F., and then my uncle, 
Mr. D., whose name also he bore. He was a solicitor or an attorney, 
he wore an old-fashioned, long skirted, square-cut black coat, and 
a broad brimmed hat, and when in good health, he was very re- 
spectable in appearance. He was usually very red in the face, 
idiotic, noisy, jabbering sentences of Viigil, Horace, English, &c., 
&c, occasionally applying them with a hidden meaning. He would 
halloo, strike the others in sport, and was altogether mischievous 
and troublesome. He often scratched his head till it was quite sore 
in many places; once he baptized me on my seat, whilst fastened 
up, with a mug of beer: once he threw brickbats at me. This was 
the gentleman my arm slapped in the face after he had struck me 
a blow at tea. He was usually to be seen in a room up stairs, with 
his red wild face staring through the blinds; here he was confined 
alone. When I began to walk about the yard, he would put his 
arm round my shoulder, ask me to walk with him, seize me by the 
right ear, and pulling it ask me, "Is that the ear Dr. L. opened for 
you?" Occasionally he pinched the wounded ear, but more gently. 
He did it to arouse me. He would ask me questions on Latin 
poetry; I suspect it was he that hid the Bible. When he walked 
out with us, I observed that at stated distances he picked up a large 
stone, and carrying it a little way, threw it into one place, till at 
last there was a pretty large heap of stones collected at one of these 



154 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

stations. When I was recovering, he confided to me part of his 
story by snatches, under a chaos of confused sentences, allusions, 
and quotations. He told me he had been a lawyer, practising on 
the western circuit; that he had written a letter with a benevolent 
intention, at the time of my father's death, relating to my family. 
He inquired into circumstances connected with his views in that 
letter, his ideas were rational and distinct on the subject; though 
he could hardly speak three sentences coherently; like the under 
current of a stream, which remains clear and steady in its course, 
though broken at the surface and at the banks into a thousand 
eddies, and by a thousand waves. There was another subject 
preyed upon his mind, connected with his conduct at the Taunton 
assizes, where it appeared there was danger of the rescue of certain 
prisoners, and he had taken an active part; he appeared to be 
scrupulous about his conduct having been correct, and he mingled 
also allusions to his daughter; but there his mind failed him; he 
could not explain himself directly. Another day he spoke of my 
treatment by the servants. He told me he thought I had been ill 
treated, and that the behaviour of the servants was very bad. I 
replied, that I did not think it was intentional: he said, "I do," 
and then ran off on other subjects, as if afraid to say too much. 
He was more than seventy years of age, and I thought it a sad 
thing to see an old man in so great affliction, who had been so 
respectable, confined in such circumstances, and I wondered at 
the want of feeling of Dr. F., who was himself an old man. 

I will mention next, Captain , the most prominent charac- 
ter in the room. My spirits desired me to call him Executioner, 
and Patience. He was of a brown complexion, with dark glossy 
hair; he had lost one leg, and besides had a withered arm, the 
sleeve of which was fastened to the breast of a blue surtout coat: 
he had a cork leg. He stood for one half the year at the end of the 
room facing the window, sitting down only at meals, and never 
leaving the room except to be shaved, or to go to bed, and once 
in the forenoon. He was usually silent, but occasionally cried 
aloud strange words; "Bruim!" Sec.; or spoke a few disjointed 
sentences, in which he anathematized the Duke of York, and Sir 
Herbert Taylor, or abused the servants. He had dark penetrating 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 155 

expressive eyes. A newspaper was often brought to him, which 
sometimes he tore up, sometimes he allowed to be read in the 
room. He often complained aloud of the thickness of the bread 
and butter at breakfast and at tea. I remarked that there was 
usually one slice of bread and butter twice the thickness of all the 
rest, put on his plate. This is one of the reasons which make me 
suspect that the patient's feelings were often provoked design- 
edly, either through the impertinent jocularity of the keepers, or 
through the mistaken quackery of the doctor. One forenoon about 
the middle of the year, a chair was brought in, and fastened below 
by an iron chain to the wall, and two servants seized this gentle- 
man and forced him violently to sit down upon it. After that he 
remained seated in one position the rest of the year. He re- 
minded me very much of the Brahmins I have read of, who 
imagine that they devote themselves to God in keeping one atti- 
tude all their lives. When the chair and the iron chain were 
brought in, I was very much frightened; I was then fastened up, 
and I thought he was going to be tortured for me. I was to have 
had my stomach squeezed between the chain and the floor, because 
I was such a glutton, and refused nothing for the sake of any spirit, 
but in pity for me, Patience had undertaken to endure it for me. 
I hallooed out to spare him, and was greatly excited. I saw him 
forced on the seat, and not under the chain. Then the spirits told 
me that he had endured it, but that they would not let me see it, 
they had hidden it from my eyes. Perhaps nothing can prove more 
strongly the power of my delusions, than that I gave credit to this 
absurd explanation. The reasons were that I believed in the tale 
of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when the eyes of a 
whole mob were blinded so that they could not find Lot's door! I 
conjectured that Jesus had escaped through the midst of the 
people by being rendered invisible to them: and I had myself been 
often perplexed by seeing persons who were not around me, in- 
stead of persons who were: by seeing words in books that were not 
printed there, and by other illusions. There was nothing else 

striking in the demeanour of Captain , but that he occasionally 

in manner and in speech, exhibited his resentment of the disre- 
spectful conduct of the servants. 



156 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

Mr. N , my spirits called Mr. Fazakerley, and my spirit of 

delicacy and contrition. He was a short, thin, sharp featured man, 
with light grey eyes, a mouth always pursed with sardonic smiles, 
a head partly bald and partly grey. He carried his hands usually in 
his waistcoat or trouser pockets; walked with a nonchalant ob- 
stinate air, and with an awkward gait, halting on one leg. He was 
a man of pride. He sat usually in one chair by the fire-place, his 
elbow leaning on a table, and never spoke to any around him; once 
or twice only I heard him ask a question, and give directions to the 
servants, who treated him with decorum. Two or three times a 
day he rose from his chair and went into the yard, where he stood 
with his head raised up, his hands on his hips, his face wearing the 
appearance of choking, and cried aloud, "I take my oath before 
God, &c. &c. &c., that I am the Duke of Somerset, and that I give 
and bequeath all my jewels, large possessions, fcc. &c., to his 
majesty and his heirs for ever. So help me God. Amenl" When I 
went into the yard at liberty, the spirits desired me also to take 
his position, and to cry out in like manner; "I am the lost hope 
of a noble family;" but after attempting it three or four times, I 
shrunk from so exposing my feelings, and my situation. Then my 
spirits said, cry out, "God save the king," or any thing you like, 
but you must suffocate. Mr. Fazakerley suffocates himself in this 
position, you must do the same. I took this direction literally, 
and I tried to sing the words, and at the same time choke myself. 
And I conceived myself a hypocrite because I could not perform 
an impossibility; which however perhaps, I had no intention of 
performing sincerely. Not succeeding in my attempt to suffocate, 
or in understanding the directions of the spirits who offered to 
teach me, and feeling the exposure of my situation, I used to stand 
in that place the greater part of the morning and of the afternoon. 
In the autumn when I had left this off, Hobbs showed me that 
part of the privet hedge, behind which I stood, saying, "look 
here, what you have done;" it was literally stripped of its leaves, 
yet I was not aware of having plucked them; this will show the 
nervous state in which I had been, and how great was my mental 
agony. I do not know what Mr. Fazakerley thought, but I rather 
think my conduct cured him of his folly, or diminished the exhi- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 157 

bition of it. Once always in the afternoon Mr. Fazakerley rose and 
marching towards the cupboard near which I was confined, took 
out of it a cup which he filled from a can of water, left in the room 
after dinner. My spirits desired me repeatedly to ask him for a 
cup of cold water also, but he never gave me one; but he whom I 
called Affection, did. 

This was a Rev. Mr. J., a clergyman from Devonshire, a tall 
sallow complexioned man, with light hair, a firm, but kind and 
gentle, though vacant countenance, somewhat slovenly. The 
agony of his features was often very great. He made observations 
aloud, often of a spiritual nature, not very delicate in language, 
sometimes reasoning on the anomalous character of the servants, 
as if arguing with himself what was his proper line of conduct to- 
wards them, occasionally replying in a very loud tone to the re- 
marks of another patient. He stamped also with one foot, with 
a remarkably earnest expression of countenance at the same time. 
He was often treated violently, and manacled to the seat opposite 
to me. I never could tell why, for I never saw him offer violence 
to any one, except late in the year, when he had a quarrel with an 
impertinent young man, and they scuffled. He bore the ill treat- 
ment of the servants with a most provokingly calm superiority of 
humour. It was this gentleman who was so agitated, when they 
were forcing the meat down my throat. He was repeatedly pushed 
out of the room for his noise. I heard him once reasoning aloud on 
the sacrament, and made a few observations to him. He ad- 
dressed me several times by name, always in an earnest and 
friendly manner, and now and then turned away again laughing, 
as much as to say, this young man does not want preaching or 
wisdom, he wants to be at fun and mockery all the day through. 

My spirits called him my cousin 's, spirit of family affection, 

also that he was my cousin, the most affectionate of my relations 
and friends, also when I desired them to show me St. John the 
Apostle, they directed me to look on him, whilst they told me 
that I was like to St. Paul or to St. Peter. 

One afternoon in the summer time, I staid in doors with other 
patients, whilst the rest went out walking; when they came in, 
after Hobbs had locked the door, I was standing by the fire-place, 



158 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

and Mr. J. was passing along the other side of the table towards 
the yard; he took off his hat and put it on the table, making some 
observations aloud. Hobbs who had come near me on my side of 
the table, spoke sharply to him and lifted a cane he had in his 
hand. Mr. J. replied, pray who are you; then offering his arm 
said, you may strike me if you will. Hobbs struck him three or 
four sharp cuts over the arm across the table. Mr. J. smiled con- 
temptuously at him, stamped with his foot, put his hat on his 
head, and passed out of the room. Had I been a little more in my 
senses, I should probably have thrashed the servant. 

The gross want of respect to situation, rank, character, or pro- 
fession, manifested by these men on all occasions, is shocking to 
the imagination, and revolting to reflection; and also, that whilst 
a lunatic is exposed to immediate and unsparing chastisement 
from them, for any ebullition of frenzy; he may be tempted to 
acts of violence repeatedly, both in self-defence, and in common 
justice to others; which nevertheless, by the ignorant and shuffling 
magistrates who visit him, would be infallibly perverted into a 
proof of his continued insanity, upon the report of those who are 
most interested to distort facts to detain him, and to revenge them- 
selves upon him for his noble and spirited resistance, and uncom- 
promising representations. The very acts of impatience and im- 
petuosity which gave me self-confidence and hope, and assured 
me I was returning to my sound senses, too sound to be liked by 
those feeding on my supineness and imbecility; the very acts which 
I hailed in my fellow-prisoners as symptoms of restored life, and of 
gallant, though God knows, imprudent resentment of galling 
mockery, insult, and oppression, were looked upon, and held up 
by my doctor to the keepers as the signs of mania; the very disorder 
for which I was to be detained. But that which my mind found 
more terrible, was that whilst temptations to violence should have 
been removed from me, on account of my express state, we were 
continually provoked to use violence, with justice and honour to 
human nature; the result of which however, might have been fatal 
to those who excited our acts, and then have consigned the un- 
fortunate perpetrator of them to be entombed for life in a mad- 
house; as far at least probably as any inquiry before a jury would 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 159 

have availed him, and certainly if he had property to pay the 
doctor well for keeping him. 

One morning when Mr. J. had asserted that he had done 
nothing to deserve confinement, Samuel Hobbs replied, "how 
can you say so sir, didn't I come to fetch you, and when I came 
hadn't you kicked through your brother's door, and weren't they 
afraid to keep you in the house, and you would not go out of it." 
I do not know if these are sufficient grounds for shutting a man 
up in a madhouse, but Samuel Hobbs thought so, and he got his 
bread by it. 

Mr. W was an old gentleman, about sixty years of age, 

bald-headed, of short stature, rather stout, an aquiline nose, and 
silly smiling countenance. He was the first of the patients who 
tried to enter into conversation with me, and with whom I en- 
deavoured to exchange any reasonable remarks. I called him Mr. 
Simplicity. He used to stand by me when fastened upon my 
wooden seat in the niche, leaning slightly against the wall with his 
hands in his pockets, jabbering with an appearance of great self- 
complacency a great many unconnected sentences, mentioning 
my name, alluding to my father in a tone of surprise and encour- 
agement, sometimes addressing to me appeals against the conduct 
of the servants. He was an Irishman, and a Quaker; he had been 

partner and coheir in a bank at in Ireland, and had run 

away from the bank at the death of his father or of one of the 
proprietors, on account of his fears of being made liable for the 
overdrawing or speculations of a relation and copartner. He had 
been secured, and since that time for many long years confined in 
this madhouse. I collected these facts from his own lips, after 
painful and repeated attention to his wanderings; sometimes in- 
terrupting him, sometimes leading him back. I can give but a 
faint idea of the want of connexion of subjects betrayed by his 
conversation. He would speak thus: "yes, sir, yes, sir, Lord K. 

was a very good man, a very good manl Do you know Lord 

sir, he was Lord Lieutenant in my time. Yes, sir, and Mr. , 

and Mr. , the same as brought in the bill for emancipating 

the Roman Catholics, you know sir; my father was at that time 
head of the firm. Sallust, you know Sallust, sir, one of the Roman 



160 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

authors, he kept a bank at , county of Limerick. S and 

Co. My father knew the Duke of Richmond very well. Yes, sir, 

it was a very respectable firm. Mr. 's, son in a madhouse! 

they say he's not mad but only pretends to be so. Yes, sir, he was 
an old man. We are Quakers. That rascal Hobbs threatens to put 
the manacles on me (here he used to seize his wrist, tremble, and 
speak very loud and fluently), he threatens to strike me, sir; I 
wonder if Dr. F. knows of it. Dublin, yes, Dublin is a very fine 
town. So when my father died I suspected it was not all right, 
you see, sir, I ran away. There was a great disturbance in Cork, 

and Mr. was member for the county; they wanted to make 

me liable; so I thought it better to run away. There's a great 
sum owing to me now. I spoke to Dr. F. about it; I asked for some 
writing paper, but Hobbs takes it all away, he takes every thing 
away from me, sir. The doctors say that my case is that of pavor 
lymphaticus, pavor lymphaticus, sir." 

And so it was, poor old gentleman, for at the slightest ap- 
pearance of menace from any of the patients or servants, he called 
out lustily, took his hands out of his pockets and stretched them 
out trembling from head to foot, though a stout man. At the 
latter end of the year I was disgusted by seeing Marshall seize 
him on two or three occasions by the collar of the coat and throw 
him on the back upon the floor; it was in sport, but improper and 
rude sport from one old man to another, and from the servant and 
keeper of lunatic patients; to a patient under lymphaticus pavor. 
This old man was quiet and timid like a child. I soon found out 
that there was some foundation for his complaints against Samuel 
Hobbs. He was generally allowed after breakfast to go up to his 
bed-room to read, and it was amusing even there to see him eagerly 
steal away delighted to get out of reach of danger, but Hobbs 

often stopped him in his flight, saying, "halloo, Mr. where 

are you going to, sir, you shall not go up." Or after hearing him 
rating him on the stairs in a loud voice, he brought him down 
again; whether from caprice or not I cannot tell. I found when 
I was allowed to be up stairs myself, that the old man studied 
Salhist, and wanted me to construe to him some passages; this 
accounted for the mention of that author. Having been at Dublin, 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 161 

I often tried to talk with him of that city, for there was no one 
else cared to know what he was gabbling about. 

In the autumn, Captain W. a young Irish gentleman, an officer 
in the line, having been brought to the house, made jest of poor 
Mr. Simplicity, threatening to throw things at him, to strike him, 
&c. 8cc. . Captain W. read a great deal in the Prayer book. This 
gave me hopes of reasoning with him on the impropriety of his 
conduct: besides that, he was really a gentleman. But to my 
astonishment and amusement he argued quietly and in sober 
seriousness. I am sure he was sent to me by God Almighty to keep 
me from melancholy, I should die in such a stupid place if I had 
not him to make fun of. My spirits called this old gentleman like 
many others, Mr. Fitzherbert: he was but a slovenly old fellow 
standing always with his hands in his breeches pockets, a posture 
for the hands however not unusual or surprising in a house where 
we were all devoted to idleness and sloth. 

Beyond him, on my left-hand side, sat a little, thin, withered, 
yellow faced man, sprucely dressed, with a well brushed blue coat 
and brass buttons, neat frill, waistcoat, and drab trousers, white 
stockings, and shoes, his grey head neatly combed, his legs un- 
crossed before him, his white handkerchief spread on his knees, 
and his hands on his thighs. My spirits called him Decency; he 
occupied this seat morning and afternoon invariably, except when 
out walking or at meals, when he took a turn or two up and down 

one side of the yard. He was a Dr. S . I heard that he had 

been confined for twenty years, and had fought a duel. He was a 
quiet, silent, inoffensive man. I seldom heard him speak at all. 
Once only he spoke to me in the autumn, in a very squeaking 
voice when he showed me a withering leaf, and told me the 
mottled colours on it reminded him of an apple. One day I saw 
him go up stairs with a clean pair of blinds, I presume to fasten 
before his window; unfortunately Hobbs was in the way, caught 
him, made him come back, and snatched the blinds out of his 
hands, and rated him, saying, "I told you you should not go up, 
I'll take the blinds and throw them to the devil." 

By the side of Mr. Decency, sat Captain P., another of the 
numerous family of Fitzherbert, that the spirits pointed out to 



162 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

me. When at last I asked what was the meaning of that name, 
and how so many came to bear it who had no relationship to each 
other, they replied, that Fitzherbert meant son of Herbert, and 
that these being spiritual bodies, were all sons of the almighty 
Herminet Herbert, whom I had seen in the three persons of the 
Trinity; Herminet Herbert, God Almighty; Herminet Herbert, 
Jesus Christ; and Herminet Herbert, the Holy Ghost; and also 
in Herminet Herbert, the Trinity in Unity; and that the name 
of Herbert, signified from the German, Lord of Hell. The Mr. 
Fitzherbert in question, was my spirit of family pride, and gentle- 
manly decorum. He was the most gentlemanly and courteous in- 
dividual in the room; tall, well made, with dark hair and eye 
brows, good features, and a countenance inclined to ruddiness, 
always clean and neat, without affectation. For a long time his 
actions served as signs to me. He usually occupied the same seat 
in the room, occasionally leaving it to play at cards: he seemed to 
feel his situation very acutely; often appeared to labour with great 
internal struggles, when he muttered deep in his throat some- 
thing that seemed to be a quotation from a tragedy of a very 
bloody import, leaning forward at the same time, and wringing 
and turning his hands clasped within each other. It was he who 
stated to me the reason of his silence, for he scarcely ever spoke. 
I saw Hobbs once asking him to read a letter for him. The young 
doctor told me he laboured under certain delusions similar to 
mine. 

At dinner, a Captain W. usually sat at the bottom of the table. 
He was also a Mr. Fitzherbert, my spirit of joviality, and of jovial- 
ity in contrition. He was a short, stout, red faced, in happier cir- 
cumstances I might have said, jolly looking man; quiet, mild, in- 
offensive in his manners, silent like the rest. That which par- 
ticularly characterized him, was his being constantly in the yard, 
where he walked up and down, generally not under cover, and in 
all weather, unless it literally poured with rain. I thought this a 
symptom of derangement, but when I came to myself and spoke 
to him, he told me that he did it to be alone, he did not like the 
noise or the exposure of the common room. Besides this I may 
add, it was some occupation even to use the legs. This poor man 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 163 

had served in the Peninsula. He answered any question I put to 
him and with perfect good sense, great deliberation, and much 
agitation. I ceased to speak with him as he never offered to begin 
conversation with me, and seeing him apparently in the possession 
of all his faculties, I judged that he might have reason for finding 
discourse painful, particularly with a stranger. 

Here let me observe, if you want any proof of the madness as 
well as cruelty of applying a system such as this to insane patients, 
where can you find one more perfect than in the fact, that you 
drive them in self-defence to conduct which in ordinary circum- 
stances a man cannot fail to look upon as a sign of unsettled mind? 
You look upon the unfortunate object of your pretended concern, 
and of your occasional malevolence, with pity for irregularities 
and extravagances, which however singular, however extravagant, 
are alas in him but too reasonable, through your own unreason- 
ableness; or putting him in circumstances of extraordinary trial; 
do you expect from Him, from him whom you confine expressly 
for his weakness and deficiency, an example of fortitude, a pat- 
tern of self-denial, perhaps not to be found in the annals of hu- 
man nature? By reason of your own conduct, your judgment if 
honest and scrupulous must be in ambiguity; for you can never 
tell if the patient's eccentricities, are the symptoms of his disorder, 
or the result of antipathy to the new circumstances in which you 
have placed him; and he, who is struggling against the guilty 
tyranny and oppression of the doctor; he who is dying daily to 
hope, to life, to the desire to exercise those qualities of the mind, 
which for the sake of woman endear a man to society, and society 
to man; he in whose breast the seeds even of a divine nature, in 
spite of your cruelty and contempt, rise to new life hourly, hourly 
to be crushed and murdered, acknowledges amongst the cruelest 
of his wrongs, and the hardest of his chains, that he must either 
tempt his nature to bear more than he can endure, or be con- 
demned as insane, for actions and conduct arising from the faulti- 
ness of the conduct pursued towards him, the childishness of those 
who deal with Him, and judge of him, forgetting his actual situ- 
ation. To prefer walking in a cold drizzling rain, to sitting by a 
warm fire side, were folly, if your kindness were not coupled with 



164 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

that mockery, which makes the inclemency of the season and 
weather comparatively less cruel. To be silent and incommunica- 
tive is a singularity; but that singularity becomes reasonable, 
when a man is denied liberty of expression and action, and con- 
fined with perfect strangers, amidst those whose interest it is to 
suspect and pervert his ways; aware of that which you, enthroned 
in the conceit of a more sound understanding, are daily for- 
getting, that the weakness of his mind renders it peculiarly im- 
proper for him to open the secrets of his heart to men with whom 
he has even no acquaintance. To halloo, to bawl, to romp, to 
play the fool, are in ordinary life, signs of irregularity, but they 
become necessary to men placed in our position, to disguise or 
drown feelings for which we have no relief; too great for ex- 
pression, too sacred for the prying eye of impertinent, impudent, 
and malevolent curiosity. I will be bound to say that the greatest 
part of the violence that occurs in lunatic asylums is to be at- 
tributed to the conduct of those who are dealing with the disease, 
not to the disease itself; and that that behaviour which is usually 
pointed out by the doctor to the visitors as the symptoms of the 
complaint for which the patient is confined, is generally more or 
less a reasonable, and certainly a natural result, of that confine- 
ment, and its particular refinements in cruelty; for all have their 
select and exquisite moral and mental, if not bodily, tortures. 

Captain W. was a man of a humble and humbled mind, sus- 
ceptible, tender; the agitation of his feelings was often visible, in 
the trembling of his hands and arms, I used at first to kneel to 
him at night, to be saved from the tortures I thought prepared 
for me. 

Mr. A. was a young manfair, slight, quiet-mannered, stupid, 
good-tempered. He used to have novels lent to him, which he read 
usually whilst standing under the alcove in the yard he put them 
by in the cupboard. I understood, on his remonstrating with me 
or another for taking the volume, that if he did not take care of 
them they would be taken away: so childish was our treatment, 
and so absurd. Was it in the first place more essential, that the only 
recreation and occupation by which a young gentleman could be 
called awhile from himself, and from contemplating his unfor- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 165 

boards should be defaced the price of which, after all, might be 
set down in the yearly accounts, in more perfect imitation of the 
private school system. Hobbs took away my books; but they were 
restored to me, when I complained of it, with an injunction to 
take care of them. I felt astonished and disgusted to be treated so 
like a child. But when I consider the propriety of the injunction, 
I ask, how were we to guard our effects, who had not so much as 
a drawer with a key to it, not even what boys have at school, a 
private locker. Oh! it is revolting to conceive this degrading 
treatment possible, and this in the midst of grown up Christian 
people, under a grown up old Quaker doctor, under the noses and 
eyes of big, bullying, grown up national church justices. It is 
revolting. It makes even this language, discreditable as it might 
be on other subjects creditable, through the immensity of their 
folly, heedlessness, or "supercherie" Yes, I say "supercherie," for 
the magistrates know well whether they are doing their duty, or 
affecting to do it. And if they reply, we act according to the statute; 
I answer, very well, gentlemen, then we'll look out for the making 
of some statute that will aid humanity, at the expense of your 
lauded indifference. 

But again, to defend our property or trusts in a room full of 
madmen, where we were often left alone without the servants, 
and where we were confined ourselves with them, as too dangerous 
for society with all its understanding and force to cope with; too 
likely to invade the rights of others! He whose predisposition to 
violence was feared, exposed to collision in defence of his honour, 
and that amongst those shut up for their likelihood to invade 
honour! 

Mr. A. conversed rationally, and joked with other patients. 

The spirits told me he was my brother D , and my brother 

D/s spirit of contrition. His countenance often wore the appear- 
ance of great lasciviousness. One day I recollect his standing by me 
with Mr. J., and quizzing me whilst manacled in the niche, when 
the other patients were out. He was an amiable young man, he 
went away in the autumn to Dublin, with Honesty, a kind and re- 
spectful servant. Long time before he went, the young doctor used 
to come and speak to him of his intended departure, and letters 



i66 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

going, he replied with a forced laugh, "that he did not believe he 
was going at all;" expressing himself contemptuously of the doctor 
that he only came to sift him, and to pry into his feelings. Young 
Mr. J. replied quietly, "do you think so, I think you are going." 
"I don't," replied Mr. A., and resumed the novel he was reading. 

Captain , the gentleman whom my spirits called "the 

Lord Jehovah supremely omnipotent, the Trinity in unity," in- 
corporate under the form of Mr. Waldony, Benevolence, &c was a 
stout, good-humoured, elderly man, at times even handsome. He 
wore a suit of blue clothes, the skirts wide and old fashioned. He 
was the most trusted of all. I never saw any irreguarity in his 
conduct, and once or twice I heard the servants say they looked to 
him to put down any disturbance in their absence. At times, 
however, he became agonized, and inflamed in the face, his features 
distorted, and he would lean forwards and thrust a handker- 
chief in his mouth, as if to stifle his feelings. It was then my 
spirits told me he was suffocating for me. He used to sit smoking, 
with his hands in his pockets, or play at cards, or read the papers. 
It was he that asked my pardon for assisting in the beginning to 
put me into the strait waistcoat: and when I was leaving the mad- 
house, he told me twice or thrice he should be ready to give evi- 
dence, if I called upon him as to my peculiar ill treatment; which 
he said had been very bad. He often used to joke good-hu- 
mouredly with me, to show me kindness, and when under delusion 
I seized him to wrestle with him, he used to take it in sport, seize 
me by the collar, and shake me. He was a Roman Catholic; but 
they called him an infidel: as a Roman Catholic, he did not attend 
the chapel. I imagine he was a Deist. He used to take away the 
Bible from me, saying, "you have read enough of it; it is that 
which brought you here/' I thought it strange that the Lord 
Jehovah took away his own word from me: but my spirits said, 
that since the redemption, all was changed, and that word was no 
longer necessary. I obeyed; but I did not understand. When I 
knelt to him as the Lord Jehovah, and to Herminet Herbert as 
Jesus Christ, in the evening, they would kneel before me in fun, 
which puzzled me extremely. Was this the goodness and conde- 
scension of the Lord? But my spirits told me the Lord took off my 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 167 

manner, and not the matter of my address. One day, on my calling 
him Jehovah, he replied with great promptitude, "Well! I am 
the Jehovah." I was constantly deluded to think that he, as my 

heavenly Father, would take me back to E , where my family 

resided. Many absurdities did I attempt to perform in this hope. 
By ill luck he had resided in that neighbourhood when a boy, and 
knew all the lanes and houses about. He talked to me of lanes 
in which he had seen little groups of angels in the trees: this I was 
simple enough to believe; and all his remarks tended to confirm 
my deceptions. 

One afternoon, I was left alone with him when yet fastened 
up; he brought three chairs, and lay down upon them, near me; 
holding in his hands a book or a paper from which he read. My 
spirits told me it was a delusion; that it was my fault if I did not 
mount to heavenly places, and see other things around me. They 

desired me to listen, and I heard two voices, one of Captain , 

reading the paper in a low voice to himself, another of a spirit 
from the same mouth, whispering things spiritual. 

Mr. J. was the youngest patient in the room, and in my opinion 
the most cruelly treated. A young, gentlemanly, active, little man. 
I saw him occasionally naked in the b^th, he was lightly and grace- 
fully made. His hair was light, his face pale, his features plain; 
but at times his countenance was divine; at times, he looked dirty, 
sallow, mean, and loathsome. He used to talk a great deal and ask 
the other patients questions, or make remarks likely to offend, 
and impertinent, but, in my opinion, the utterance of a spirit of 
discernment or of divination. He used language figuratively, but 
I was not always able to understand his drift. He would ask, "have 
you brushed your coat this morning?" "will you let me brush your 
hat for you? are those shoes you have got on?" often he said to me, 
"do you fence?" I was so stupid as to take his questions simply at 
first; and I replied to him, that I had had lessons from Angelo; he 
then rejoined, "Angelo! aye, Angelo, they say Angelo fences well; 
for my part, I think he never had a foil in his hand in his life." 
Looking up into the sky once, he said to me, "do you see that 
beautiful woman?" He occasionally alluded to the doctrines of 
faith and good works; and I understood from him or others that he 



168 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

had belonged to a society of young men in Cambridge, who used 
language in a figurative manner, and held wild notions. I felt 
that he had meddled with matters too high for him. I need not 
say that no one appeared to comprehend him. Though all showed 
a dislike to his remarks, as if they knew they were being spoken at, 
as well as spoken to. Hobbs used to act and look as if he suspected 
that there was a method in his madness; and I think Mr. Waldony 
knew as much, though he would not acknowledge it. 

He often stood by me, when I was fastened up, and made al- 
lusions to my situation, asking me, have you been at your father's 
house this morning? do you make no efforts to get out from there, 
Mr. . Now the only thing I did besides singing aloud, hal- 
looing (for which I got rated and trounced or flanked by the 
servant's duster) was to try and twist my neck, or to suffocate my- 
self by pressing my nostrils against a small handle of wood fixed 
in the wall, which served as an arm to the seat in the niche. I 
imagined that he rebuked me, for not having yet executed my 
purpose, through cowardice and insincerity. 

My spirits told me this was my youngest brother. I understood 
them literally at first, and I was perplexed because I could see but 
an imperfect resemblance in the features. But I was told that I 
did not like to see him; and therefore could not. Afterwards he 
was pointed out to me as my younger brother's Honesty; and I 
acknowledged a resemblance in character. He was allowed to re- 
main with me alone up stairs, when I sat in the wicker chair after 
the opening of my temporal artery. One day, when I was at lib- 
erty, and the servants were gone out walking with most of the 
other patients, I sat at the table, after having attempted to play a 
game o drafts with him, in which we did not succeed. I then be- 
gan reading, and he sat down opposite to me, making observations 
on me aloud, which appeared to be condemnatory of me, and re- 
flecting on my conduct My spirits desired me to reply to them, or 
to leave the room. But I would not, and I contended against the 
spirits that called me out, if I remember, to defend my honour, 
obstinately resolved to do nothing till I was reduced to a state of 
the meanest and most debasing feelings. I sat, through his re- 
marks, in a spirit of malignity towards him for his impudence, and 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 169 

towards my Maker, resolved not to give up my position, for after 
being wearied and deluded by contradictory and unintelligible 
commands, I at times avenged myself by a complete revolt. A few 
days afterwards, whilst standing on the bank in the yard reading, 
I saw him coming out of the saloon, and walk down the alcove, 
his countenance was like that of Hyperion. He observed me, took 
displeasure at my demeanour, and halted, making a remark. My 
spirits told me if I did not change my place or attitude, I should 
ruin his state of mind, and drive him to hell: for the love of God 
to change my place. I recollected the afternoon before mentioned, 
when he drove me to hell; and maintained my position, replying, 
that God who had insulted me through him, and had not pro- 
tected me, might now protect him; in a few minutes he went down 
the yard in appearance to me a devil. 

He was often severely handled. He and Mr. J. the clergyman, 
were made to use the same indecent shower bath I was myself ex- 
posed to. I am afraid to say how long he was confined to the back- 
yard, without the privilege of exercise or of change of scene in 
accompanying us out walking: but I fear during the whole sum- 
mer, he did not walk out so much as twenty-one days. A spirited, 
active, intelligent young man! I saw him once ask the servant 
to allow him to go out with tears in his eyes: but his hat was taken 
away from him, and the door locked in his face. Once he was not 
allowed to go out for ill conduct to myself, which Hobbs observed, 
for Hobbs often defended me from his impertinent intrusions. I 
would willingly have staid at home for him to go out, but I could 
not explain or express myself; and though his keen observations 
insulted me, I know he spoke to me the condemnation of a spirit 
in him, to which he was sincere, although I did not altogether un- 
derstand him, for I had no time or place for reflection, or for self- 
examination; and my thoughts were too much confused. I was 
told his disorderly conduct prevented the keeper taking him out, 
and at the latter end of the year, when a powerful young lad whom 
I named Simplicity and Honesty, came to wait on us, there being 
then thirteen or fourteen patients in the room, I saw he was fast- 
ened to the lad's arm out walking, and struggling to get away 
from him. When left alone in the yard, he amused himself with 



170 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

picking up stones, climbing up into a small tree and sitting there 
looking over the country, and one day he picked nearly all the 

leaves off this tree. 

I remember one day his shying small stones with great force in 
front of the lunatics' faces who were walking under the alcove; but 
I observed the stones never hit any one, and we were too near to 
be missed if he had meant us any harm. He cut at my legs with a 
knife under the table, but still to intimidate, not to do mischief, 
for he had opportunity to hurt me if he had designed it, before I 
changed my seat. I loved the young man, and one day by command 
of the spirits, I laid my head in his bosom, on the bench in the 
yard, but I could not understand the mind of the spirit in him. 
Towards the end of the year, I was provoked to strike him twice. 
One winter evening I was seated by the fire, reading a speech of 
my eldest brother, when my manner offended him who was sitting 
at the corner of the fire, on my right-hand side. He asked me with 
a sneer, "is that your speech or your brother's, sir," and on my 
making no reply, he alluded as the doctor had done once before, to 
my father's death. I was provoked to smite him over the lips with 
the pamphlet; he rose up sparring, and I rose and knocked him 
down. The servant coming in, and hearing the origin of the quar- 
rel took my side; he went out of the room. I was applauded. The 
scene reminded me of passages in Roderick Random; and I was 
full of grief. 

Another evening in January, after I had been removed up 
stairs, and had been disputing with the doctor, and with my 
family, and had also received that treatment of my letters, and the 
replies, which exasperated me so much, and having had no exer- 
cise during the day, I went down to walk in the yard. Mr. J. 
took offence at me and shouldered me in passing two or three 
times. I took an attitude of preparation when he next came to me, 
he halted, and began sparring again; I was in no humour for 
sport, and fearing him, I struck him in the face, and gave him a 
bloody nose. His blood was very black. I am truly sorry for these 
blows, for I do not think now the young man designed to hurt me, 
but he was obeying a spirit of frolic and gaiety; on neither oc- 
casion did he offer to strike me again; but I could not command 
then desperate. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 171 

I have seen this young lad occasionally cleaning the shoes and 
knives in the knife hole, under the alcove; he always acted in a 
fitful manner, as if guided like myself by spiritual direction. When 
I began planning my escape, I observed him narrowly inspecting 
and considering the same points that I examined. When my 
spirits desired me to sing in the room, he stood by me and took 
up the air I began, or the song I was trying after, so as to help my 
memory. One day when I came home from walking, in the midst 
of the other gentlemen, I observed Mr. J. standing on the opposite 
side of the table at the further end. Hobbs passed behind me and 
along that side of the table, advancing towards him. I saw no 
violence or impropriety of conduct on his part, but in a minute a 
scuffle ensued between him and his keeper. During the whole of 
the struggle Mr. J. only exercised a passive resistance; determined, 
with great coolness to oppose and resist force, but not to exercise 
violence in return. He was dragged with extreme rudeness, resist- 
ing mightily, into the yard, and then down the alcove to a wooden 
seat, to which he was often manacled by the right wrist. I followed, 
desired by my spirits to take Mr. Fazakerley's position in the al- 
cove as usual. The servant wanted to fasten Mr. J. on the seat by 
the manacle. Mr. J. resisted. The rascal got the young gentleman 
down on the bench, and whilst he vigorously, but still calmly, and 
only defensively struggled against him, seized him round the 
throat and strangled him. I was extremely excited, frightened, 
and grieved; for not having seen any cause for the attack upon the 
young man, indeed there had not been time for any, I more readily 
believed the voices that told me he was suffering for me, &c. And 
when I saw his bloated and inflamed cheeks, and the eyes starting 
out of the sockets, I offered to do any thing to rescue him. My 
spirits desired me to whirl myself round and round as fast as I 
could, which I did till I staggered against the wall, and nearly 
fell on the stone pavement. I attempted it a second time, being 
accused by my spirits of cowardice and insincerity; but either I 
really was afraid of a fall, or other sensations made me cease. The 
habitual submission of my spirit was such that I did not once think 
of attacking the servant. Now had I been in my sound senses I 
might have rushed on the man, seized him unawares, and dashed 
his head against the pavement. I speak as a man; for who can 



172 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

control his passion under every excitement, and what is nobler 
than to resent and punish cruel and brutal oppression? Then 
that which to a free man would have been counted an act of 
justifiable homicide in defence of a fellow creature, or at least 
but as an act of manslaughter, would have doomed me to per- 
petual banishment from society, as a madman, though an act 
noble in proportion to the danger that threatened me, whether I 
failed or succeeded. There are those in the world, I know, who will 
cruelly and coldly reply, that there was a difference, inasmuch as 
the keeper was doing his duty; and that at any rate to interfere in 
my case, would have proved my madness. These are the doctor's 
true friends. Vipers! I only hope I may catch them in the dis- 
charge of this duty, as I now am; and I will try to enlighten their 
consciences. When again I reflected on the brutal treatment 
which was attempted also on myself; I exclaimed, good Godl but 
what must a man expect, even though not a surgeon, at the blood 
being thus forced up and coagulated in a lunatic's head. But with 
this shocking scene I must close my day's labour; painful, too 
painful at all times, but in this case, too much for me to reflect on 
patiently. God grant that I may not have undertaken this too late 
to do good to those I have left behind me! 

Captain W. came into the common room in the summer time: 
when he first entered and peeped into the yard, he appeared to me 
as a son of Mr. Stuart Wortley's, a schoolfellow and a friend of my 
fourth brother; again he re-entered from the yard, and I saw 
another of my schoolfellows, an Irishman and one of my friends. 
The likeness was so strong that I called out the names each time 
involuntarily. Mr. F. K then introduced him to me as Captain 
W.; but having seen him before under the countenances of my 
friends, I did not believe him, but rather my spirits. He was a 
talkative young man of a religious mind, but slovenly. He told 
me that he had been obliged to leave his regiment on account of 
the state of his mind, and that his was a case of love madness. I 
said to him, if so, why not show more respect for his person, for 
the sake of his lady; he replied, ohl it did not signify here, in the 
world it signified, but what did it matter now? what were we sent 
here for? I thought it mattered here more than elsewhere, for he 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 173 

was not likely to get out unless he showed attention to his person. 
He was fully aware of his position. He had come with his father, 
and had heard the arrangements made for him, which he detailed 
to me one day when complaining about pocket handkerchiefs not 
being supplied to him. I was entirely ignorant on what footing I 
was placed there. It was he that quizzed and terrified the simple 
old Quaker. He told me one day that he had attempted to make 
away with himself from the bars of a window upstairs; he used 
to talk of suicide openly, which was painful to hear. As I came 
gradually to my right mind, I used to burst into fits of laughter, 
at the discovery of the absurdity of my delusions, and of the still 
grosser absurdity of the conduct pursued towards me and the 
other patients; for at one time I could not control my humour, at 
another my anger; for I said, if it were only ridiculous, but now 
it is grossly cruel, selfish, and disgusting. Captain W. observing 
this, told me I should never get out of confinement, it was invari- 
ably observed that lunatics who laughed excessively, were incur- 
able. I thought to myself, I'll not only get out, but laugh at you 
too into the bargain, good gentleman. 

In the autumn, a respectable, silver haired, old clergyman, was 
added to our number. He was a tight, neat, busy, little man, and 
behaved, during the whole of his sojourn amongst us, with great 
decorum. He tried even to introduce the custom of saying grace 
at dinner, but it did not succeed. I saw no marks of insanity in 
him except at meals. The first time he sat down to dine with us, 
he refused his food, and in the presence of us all, for he was then 
sitting at the right side of the table, I was at the head of it; Hobbs 
seized him, and forced the victuals down his throat. It was a dis- 
gusting and frightful sight, to see the old man trembling, resisting, 
and to hear his suffocated sobs and cries. This scene was repeated 
several times at breakfast and dinner. At last the old gentleman 
was considered to be in his senses, and went to church to give 
thanks for what was called his recovery, before he went away. 
This patient talked to me sensibly and rationally, he also worked 
with me in the shrubbery. One afternoon in the yard, he began 
praising Dr. F/s asylum, the kindness, the humanity of the treat- 
ment. I replied, that I begged leave to differ with him in toto. 



174 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

He asked me for an example of conduct contrary to his opinions. 
I begged his pardon if I wounded his feelings by mentioning 
his own case; I asked if it was respectful to his age or to his pro- 
fession, that he should have been so exposed before us, even if it 
were necessary to force his food down his gullet; and if it were 
considerate or humane to the spectators in any sense, but more 
especially considering their state as lunatic and nervous patients. 
He never spoke to me afterwards of the humanity of the asylum. 

In truth, the humanity of the asylum consisted in the conduct 
of the patients, not in that of the system and of its agents, for, had 
the patients felt or manifested half the indignation that nature 
or honour required of them, they would probably have been half 
murdered if not wholly so. 

After the entrance of the Rev. Mr. , another Captain came 

in. He was a slovenly, imbecile, man, stooped very much, and 
laughed a great deal to himself. I understood that he had been re- 
moved from another asylum. I recollect nothing particularly of 
him, but that he flew out into very high words at tea one evening 
when I was left behind the other gentlemen gobbling my bread 
and butter, and mixing with it salt, pepper, and mustard, from a 
cupboard, in obedience to my spirits; he left the table saying, that 
he would not sit at it if I did not behave as a gentleman; I made 
no reply, but I was astonished at his interference; I felt, so long 
as the servants do not entertain the same opinion it matters very 
little to me here what you may think. I shall obey my spirits, do 
what you will with yours. 

In the autumn, another elderly man was ushered one evening 
into the common room by one of the young doctors; it was im- 
mediately after the riots at Bristol. After a few words he was left 
alone. He was a decent, grey headed, short, hard featured, stub- 
born man, and appeared in every respect to be of sound mind. I 
imagined he was a gentleman who had come to visit one of the 
patients. My ideas were soon set right. It was towards tea time, 
and when he sat down at the table, he asked in a decided tone for 
some coffee; his request was at first met with silence; he repeated 
it, then Marshall, whom I called Sincerity, replied, "Oh! there 
is no coffee here, the tea is good enough for you." I thought, you 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 175 

have a severe lesson to learn, sir. The old man was of a very active 
body and mind. He had no employment, no one to converse with. 
At first he talked a great deal, with some wit; then he began to 
play tricks and was scouted; then his mind completely gave way: 
he used to go into the yard and daub himself with red soil calling 
it paint, and in a few weeks he was confined as I had been, in a 
straight waistcoat, upon the self-same seat, in the niche. His fall 
was rapid and shocking. One day before he was fastened up, 
whilst walking in the alcove, begrimed with dirt, and playing his 
pranks, Marshall ran behind him, and in joke, hit him a violent 
blow in the small of the back; the old man was put to great pain, 
for he said he had long had a complaint in the kidneys. 

He was stiff in his joints from old age; when confined in the 
niche, he did not lose his spirits, but was still the noisiest and 
most talkative of us all; so that Captain W, asking us once which 
was the happiest man of us all, replied when all were silent, "old 

Mr. ;" but I knew he was mistaken, and mistook spirits for 

happiness: the noise which men resort to, to hide themselves from 
themselves, and from one another, for real gaiety. He found out 
my name, and addressed me with a kind of forced and vulgar 
familiarity: he told me he was a merchant of the city of Bristol, 
and that one of his ancestors or relations had married a relation 

of my uncle, Sir John , whose family were of Somersetshire. 

He was a fine old man and I wondered at so much fun and enter- 
prise in age, when youth seemed so supine. 

He had originally been supercargo in an East Indian ship, and 
had visited China. One day he showed me a privet leaf, saying it 
was a tea leaf, by which I understood his spirit meant it resembled 
though he may have intended that it was, a tea leaf. He pretended 
to know a great deal, and to be able by skimming over a book, 
to acquire its contents. He asked me to show him a pamphlet I 
was reading, in order to give a specimen of his talent; but he was 
not quiet; he did it to hide from others his own feelings, and to 
escape from his own ennui. 

The treatment I had endured was shameful, but yet I was a 
young man. The treatment of this old man was horrible. All day 
long he was confined as I had been, on a wooden seat, amidst 



1^6 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

noise, insult, flippancy, and confusion. The common wants of 
nature were neglected in him. Oh! it was shocking. Of an eve- 
ning, at his request, a request unheeded by Marshall the servant 
present, I held the box into which patients that smoke spate, for 
him as an urinal, emptying it afterwards in the yard. Often he 
was without even this decent aid. After sitting a whole day, in 
the evening I heard him begging for one of the hair cushions of 
the chairs, to put under him; no one attended to him; I did: the 
servant desired me not to do it, but I gave it to him. One Sunday 
young Mr. J. commenced flanking at his legs with a duster; I was 
so grieved that I put myself before him, to cover him, receiving the 
blows. I did not offer to strike Mr. J. for then I would not have 
lifted my hand voluntarily against any man, considering his body 
as the Lord's temple; but watching my opportunity, I snatched the 
duster away, gave it to Captain W. to keep, and went out of the 
room. The old man was grateful. 

When I received and answered my letters, he used to ask me 
for pen and ink, pretending to write or direct a letter himself, but 
scrawling nonsense. He often inquired if there was no letter for 
him, and was disappointed and grieved in silence that there was 
none. He expected one from his child. I knew he would have to 
wait long. At last one came, and he received it eagerly. 

One night I went up stairs to bed alone, and heard him call to 
me, for he slept in a room opening into the same passage: the serv- 
ant not being yet with me, I went into his room. He was lying 
almost naked on the bed strapped down as I had been, but with a 
belt over his belly. He asked me I think for some water, which I 
gave him, and for other assistance which I was unable to render 
him; then I got to my own room not to be observed. He used to de- 
file his bed night after night, for which the servants rated him, but 
I do not know that they struck him. Probably in behaving so he 
acted under a delusion, or nature gave way to necessity, having 
been controlled in the day-time from delusion; perhaps also he 
was neglected. 

On a Sunday evening, about three weeks after his entrance, 
when all were gone to church but Mr. Waldony and myself, he 
being very restless, I was surprised to see him get up, and collecting 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 177 

hastily chairs together, attempt to scale the alcove at the only 
feasible point for effecting an escape. Having formed as he thought 
his ladder he began changing his coat, to put on that of another. 
I said nothing but watched him, for he was putting in practice the 
scheme I had thought upon, and I thought if he succeeded I would 
be after him, if not, I was not suspected. One of the servants came 
in just as he was mounting. 

Before I left the asylum, I was one day ordered to go down into 
the common room whilst Hobbs prepared to walk out with me, 
for then I used to walk out alone in a retired walk behind the 
kitchen garden. The room stank abominably; the rest of the 
gentlemen were in it, I inquired the cause, and I found it was 
owing to this old patient, who was seated at the end of the room 
tied up in his niche, not having had his bodily necessities attended 
to; yet he was left there an offence to himself and an insult to the 
other gentlemen. Once the same accident happened to myself, 
when the three humaner servants waited on us; but I was relieved 
from my situation as soon as they discovered it. I have suspected 
since that my dinner had been drugged. 

I have already mentioned that I began writing to my family in 
November, to complain of the treatment which had been pursued 
towards me, and to find out to whom the blame was to be imputed. 
At the same time I demanded a private apartment, with a servant 
of my own choosing: that letter was opened and detained, in op- 
position to my wishes. I then wrote concisely to my eldest brother, 
that he might desire my letter to be given up to him, and insist 
upon my correspondence with my family being respected. The 
two letters were forwarded together. I was not sanguine in the 
expectation of obtaining my demand. I replied thus, if my family 
have been guilty of so great folly, as to submit me to such mis- 
management, contrary to nature, reason, and religion, there is no 
folly they may not be guilty of in respect of me: I was not surprised 
then as at a thing unexpected and impossible when my mother 
wrote to me word that she must be guided by the doctor as to my 
having a private apartment. I was still less surprised at a distinct 
refusal from him. Interest, prejudice, and pique, might influence 
his judgment; but I was astonished at the hardness of heart and 



178 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

want of understanding that could make an affectionate and indul- 
gent parent doubt the reasonableness of my request; particularly 
when I knew that I was termed a nervous patient, and reflected 
that for years my mother had suffered from extreme nervousness, 
during which she could scarcely endure, and even forbade a news- 
paper being unfolded in her room; so greatly did she feel the need 
of quiet. Now I am sure that next to myself, no one will more 
acutely resent my ill treatment when she understands it, than my 
mother, and it is fearful to think how an habitual hardening the 
heart to misgivings of the mind respecting the trustworthiness of 
other men, and a supine surrender of the judgment, and of the 
dictates of honest feeling, to the impudent pretences of shallow 
hearted swindlers, may betray individuals, and whole classes, to 
the most shameful and inhuman acts of madness. Alas! it is too 
true, the treatment I have described can only be that of madmen 
or of villains. So opposite in nature to the end proposed! I was 
not however able to brook my disappointment, it drove me almost 
mad through passion. Then it was that I struck the servant over 
the eye, and wrestled with others; then it was also I struck Mr. J.; 
then too, I foresaw and tried to prepare myself for all the diffi- 
culties and disappointments in the way of my obtaining my liberty 
with honour, resting my only hope on the enlightened character 
of the Lord High Chancellor, if by any means I might be able to 
gain his ear: I thank God he left me this hope, it buoyed me up 
though it proved partly false, my mind being blinded to the 
estimate I had long before made of men of public character, viz., 
that they are men great in one line, but devoid of real understand- 
ing; because, deciding wilfully, they reject light that restrains 
their activity, and contradicts their imperfect convictions. 

In consequence of my striking the servant a blow, I was desired 
to descend again, schoolboy fashion, into the common room, where 
I wrote with a sprained thumb as well as I could, my second appeal 
to my mother; in it I swore that I would have the life of one of the 
servants if I were not removed from that madhouse before three 
months were out. I could not patiently endure my situation, and 
it was indifferent to me if I was confined for life, so as I could 
avenge by blood the indignities I had been subjected to, and put 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 179 

an end to an agonizing state of suspense. If I were myself slain or 
hanged, death brought a joyful release, and no disgrace can I care 
for, having drunk the bitterest draughts of ill deserved ignominy, 
and despising as I do the accursed folly of the world. Fortunately 
I detailed in that letter a part of those indignities: my pride was 
wounded in so doing, for I could not brook that advantage was 
to be taken of my misfortunes to doubt my honour, but under the 
English lunatic doctors and the English country magistrates, I 
was obliged at last to have every feeling brutalized. My family 
had not, or pretended not to have been aware of my ill treatment. 
My mother desired by return of post that I might have a private 
room, and in a short time I had one. Then the ideas of all around 
me seemed to have changed towards me: my meals were private 
and served to me as to a gentleman, the familiarity of the servants 
seemed to cease, and to my broken spirit the exertions made to 
comply with my demands seemed excessive. 

Fortunately there was a worthy and elderly physician residing 
in my mother's parish, who had formerly had the care of insane 
patients; she applied to him. He was a sensible, honest, humane 
man, but too mistrustful of his own sound judgment. He advised 
my mother to attend to my desires immediately, but on account 
of my violent language he could not look with calmness on my 
having a private lodging, or being with a private family. I learnt 
this from his own lips a year afterwards. I then demonstrated 
to him the extreme folly as well as cruelty of the conduct which 
had been pursued towards me even in this instance, and against 
which I had protested and remonstrated again and again without 
effect, viz., that resolutions were taken as to the disposal of my 
person and property, and communicated to me with about as much 
ceremony as if I were a piece of furniture, an image of wood, in- 
capable of desire or will as well as of judgment. Steps were taken, 
but the reasons never shown to me, God knows it, never. My 
mother wrote to me to say that I was to be removed from the mad- 
house I was in, and to be confined in another; where, or under 
whom, was not mentioned, or why. Had she mentioned her rea- 
sons for choosing another madhouse instead of a private lodging, 
I could have removed them immediately, and a long and painful 



i8o PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

altercation might have been prevented, I was not a madman act- 
ing with indiscriminate violence, but I was exasperated by the 
recollection of, and by actual suffering from insulting, degrading, 
cruel treatment. I had no ill-will to any individual, but to those 
concerned in the murder, the repeated murder of my spiritual and 
moral nature. On the contrary, I was in disposition like a child, 
in conduct, as I proved under these trying circumstances, calm and 
deliberative until rendered desperate. My resolution even to take 
the life of the keeper, though violent in expression, was determined 
in resolution and feeling, it was the cry of outraged human nature, 
not the victory of passion over right understanding. I still almost 
feel over again what I then felt. 

So little care was taken by my relations to be precise or ex- 
planatory in their conduct towards me, that the previous letter I 
received from my mother, desiring me a private apartment, merely 
contained a refusal to remove me from the madhouse of Dr. F.: the 
next told me that a private apartment was being prepared for me 
in a madhouse elsewhere. By that time I had been again insulted 
and injured by the forced use of the shower-bath and cold bath. I 
considered my life in danger under insolent and violent servants, 
malignant, prejudiced, and nettled physicians. The magistrates 
called, and I claimed their interference: I stated that I was much 
grieved to be compelled to appeal to them against my mother, but 
that her conduct was so unjust that I was afraid I must look to 
them for legal assistance if she did not answer my letter according 
to my reasonable desires. They in a loose way promised me the 
assistance of a lawyer, but had I needed one they left me the name 
of no party to whom I could apply, and I must have waited three 
months to make my next appeal. So the convalescent madman 
who needs most help, is left most of all to his own resources; and 
the doctors have ample time to drive him insane again, or to pro- 
voke him to acts of indiscretion, that may be construed into proofs 
of derangement. 

I now took up this attitude against my family. I argued that 
although I was unsettled in my judgment and still partially luna- 
tic, it did not give mankind or them any legal right to exercise a 
brutal and tyrannical control over my will, without respect to the 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 181 

nature of my calamity, and to the degree of restoration I had at- 
tained to. Instead of being treated as I was, de haut en bos, with 
complete contumely, no argument or address being made to my 
understanding, I conceived that my being a lunatic required on 
the contrary the more scrupulousness on their part, the more cau- 
tion, openness, and explanation. That it was their duty to make 
my way more straight and clear before me because I was by my 
disease already sufficiently prone to delusion, and even to unpro- 
voked suspicion. So at least the doctors desire you to believe, but I 
question if the suspicions of lunatics are not often most sane, and 
engendered necessarily by the underhand dealings of others to- 
wards them. There is a distinction to be made between the sus- 
picions of lunatics and that of lunacy. I considered that though 
surrendered by law to the charge of a physician, it was to be pro- 
tected, and to be prevented from injuring others, not to lay me 
open helpless and defenceless to his villanies, and his treachery; 
to the violence of his servants, or to experiments of his quackery 
upon my constitution and feelings under the pretence of cure, and 
that even if it were so, the law could not justify him in a system 
brutally perverse and contrary to all science, surgical or moral; a 
system unnatural and impudent; that the silence of the law could 
not be an excuse for it, if no patient had hitherto had understand- 
ing or courage to plead against it. I determined therefore for 
safety, for example's sake, and for revenge to appeal to the law 
against my physician. I avowed the three motives. 

In order to succeed I desired first legal assistance to set forth 
my case and to save my rights; secondly to be taken to London to 
be for a short time under the care of a surgeon who had known 
me from a child, that he witnessing my state of mind and body, 
and hearing my complaints, might be able to argue and to give 
evidence concerning the necessity of requiring me to use the cold 
bath, at that inclement season, the propriety of using force consid- 
ering the degree of understanding I was restored to, and the danger 
to my health of body from the shock and cold, and to my mind 
from the needless excitement. These requests were denied. I then 
wrote to my mother, stating to her, that if she really was not aware 
of the cruelty of my situation, she had been deceived by Dr. F., 



i8s PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

and then might justly join me in demanding legal satisfaction, 
but that if she did not do so, I could not be reconciled to her, and 
must hold her also responsible to me at law, for she was certainly 
the most culpable. Moreover, that though I knew I was still luna- 
tic, yet I knew too, from sad experience, that I was capable of 
taking care of myself in a more reasonable manner than the 
wretched physicians she confided in; that I was not a lunatic in- 
capable of controlling myself, although I felt so sensible of my 
need of observation that I would not accept my liberty if it were 
given to me, but should place myself immediately under the eye 
of some one I could rely upon; but that if she insisted on placing 
me, where under pretence of observation, I should be defenceless, 
open to violence, impertinent intrusion, indelicate treatment, and 
deprived of tranquillity, peace, rest, and security, I should claim 
my freedom, though lunatic, as one not mischievous, and hold her 
responsible for my future detention. 

In taking this resolution I was actuated also by the desire of 
convincing the consciences of my mother and of my family, to see 
the sin they had been guilty of. Knowing the terrors of the Lord, 
knowing what it was of horror to feel that repentance comes too 
late, I stood in awe of God if I did not rebuke them, and shocked 
at their doom if they should die unconvinced and hardened against 
my rebuke: for I call God to witness, although accused by my family 
at the instigation of the doctors of lunacy as if devoid of affection, 
I endured continual and deep agony of mind, affection and at- 
tachment, contending within me with feelings of duty and just 
wrath. The conduct I endured was not to be endured in life with 
patience: the stupidity of spiritual death alone submits to it quiet- 
ly. The judgment that I came to, that it was my duty to sacrifice 
affection and attachment to the maintenance of my rights, and to 
rescue myself and others from treatment revolting to humanity, 
to enlighten the minds of others by bringing down condemnation 
on the guilty, even though that guilty one was my . I can- 
not write the word; and this, under the charge of being cruel and 
unnatural, to save the soul: this judgment may have been mistaken, 
but it was not that of a madman, and no man can rebuke me for it 
who has not passed through like extremities. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 183 

I might as well have appealed to the winds. I received letters 
from my elder brother and his wife, canting about submission, 
patience, and the Holy Spirit; to which I replied in mockery and 
disdain. I knew that my patience had been proved in a fire they 
could not have stood under for a moment; that it had not given 
way until they had neglected my representations, and made me 
desperate; and they talked to me of patience, ignorant of facts and 
circumstances, whose business it was to have humbled themselves 
and to have applied patiently for information to me. They wrote 
to me of the Holy Ghost by whose conduct I was driven well nigh, 
and at last altogether to blaspheme the holy name of God, and to 
doubt his Providence. They talked to me of my Heavenly Father's 
will, who if they had allowed their stubborn stupidity, and hypo- 
critical reliance on the doctor to have been pierced by one ay of 
agony, ought to have known that they were already guilty before 
my Heavenly Father of that perverse will by which I was aban- 
doned, through which I was destroyed, and wander about, the ruin 
of what I was, and to which I was still compelled to address threats, 
argument, and representation. Another wrote to me actually de- 
fending the doctor in opening my letters, taking the part of my 
enemy, and reasoning against me. I was so disgusted at his indeli- 
cacy and presumption, for he always wrote to me as if he knew 
what lunacy was, not I who had endured it, therein proving the 
stubborn and innate lunacy of human nature, rushing to give an 
opinion where nothing is known to found a right opinion upon; 
that I wrote on the note a few laconic lines to say, that I returned 
him his note, and that until he changed his mind and expressed 
his sorrow to me for having written it, I could not have any com- 
munion of spirit with him, and therefore desired not to speak 
with him. 

When indeed I desired my correspondence to be respected, it 
was from feelings of delicacy towards my family, as much as to 
myself. But I met with no delicacy in return. I wonder at their 
insensibility, how that intelligent and sensitive souls can become 
so besotted. But I am wrong, human nature has yielded to the 
absurd and immodest assumptions of the papal church in regard 
of confession; there are other vipers as subtle. But others behaved 



184 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

in like manner. TVhen I made my first appeal to the magistrates, 
in doing which, confined in a madhouse, recovering from lunacy, 
weakened by long sickness, I had to conciliate resentment and ex- 
asperation, with respect and filial duty, vindictive feelings, with 
affection; I had to speak in presence of nine or ten magistrates, 
servants, and doctors. None had the delicacy to withdraw, no one 
had the gentlemanly feeling to desire me to see them in private. 
They stared with impudent and unmeaning curiosity. Nay, I have 
one exception to make. Captain W., confined like me as a lunatic, 
left the room; he afterwards apologized to me for being in it, say- 
ing, he was unaware of what I was going to speak about, but that 
the moment he heard me he retired. I thanked him, and told him, 
that I should have been glad, amongst so many unfeeling, stupid, 
and suspicious judges, to have had one honest, clever, and gentle- 
manly witness to my complaints and demeanour. 

At last the letter came to announce my mother's determination 
to remove me from that madhouse to another. I wrote immedi- 
ately objecting to my person being bandied about across the coun- 
try at the discretion of others, I knew not whither, without the 
slightest respect to my inclination or judgment. I demanded again 
a private lodging and a servant of my own choosing,* by which I 
meant, that I should have a voice in his appointment, and continu- 
ing with me, the only true safeguard against disrespectful conduct. 
I refused to accede to her desires; I held her responsible for my de- 
tention; and I desired that I might be placed in a neighbourhood 
where my name was known, and my personal character might be 
respected by the magistrates. I repeated my request to be brought 
to town if only for three weeks to see the surgeon alluded to above, 
and to take the advice of a lawyer; also to have my teeth attended 
to, which were in a state of decay, not having been washed for a 
whole year. I also prayed that whithersoever my journey, I might 
not be compelled to travel more than six hours a day: for I feared 
that fatigue and excitement might overcome me, my nerves being 

* This expression was unfortunately mistaken, as if I wanted to have a 
servant of my own instead of selecting one of the doctor's; for this reason it was 
refused; but the reason was not communicated to me, or I might have explained 
it, instead of being condemned without knowing it, as absurd. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 185 

so shattered/my frame so weak. Learning afterwards that my elder 
brother was to remove me, I wrote a letter to him, rebuking him for 
his conduct to me, for his neglect of my letters, and inattention to 
my requests; I refused also my hand to him, and to speak to bnn 
unless he acknowledged his fault, and asked my pardon: I consider 
it my duty to deal truly by them, and I was obliged to act concisely, 
because I was often deprived of the power of speech, and could not 
trust to myself to moderate my expressions, or to them to respect 
me if I spoke in a broken, irregular manner. My spirits often 
counselled me to disguise all my resentment until I was clear of 
Dr. F.'s establishment. It might have been better for me: but then 
I replied, "I must play the hypocrite, which I cannot do long," and 
my mind shrunk at the idea of deceiving my own relations with a 
design to punish them, besides, I was not able to endure the treat- 
ment I received any longer, therefore I chose the straightforward 
path. 

When they arrived, I returned to my other brother, as I had 
intended, the note he had written. I was amused, perplexed, and 
provoked at the same time by the familiarity of their demeanour 
towards me, in spite of my reserve. I understood my position im- 
mediately, and saw my little hope, and the great difficulties before 
me: that I had no chance of success so long as I argued with my 
relations alone. For why? they looked on me as a misguided child; 
but I despised them as dupes of their own conceit, and guilty of 
grosser lunacy and insanity in their dealings towards me without 
the excuse of derangement, than I had been the victim of in my 
trouble. A wise man can hardly accept or admit the rebuke of a 
wise man; how much less could my infatuated brothers admit the 
justice of the rebuke of one whom they condemned as lunatic with- 
out discrimination. 

To check the misplaced familiarity of my elder brother, I asked 
him if he had received no letter from me, he said, yes, and I re- 
sumed my silence; but I think when we halted for the night, I 
found he alluded to a letter of a previous date. He then told me 
he had received no other, but that Dr. F. had just put into his 
hands two or three letters which he had as usual opened and de- 
tained. Alas I if these letters had been sent they might have 



186 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

changed my mother's mind, and saved her and my family from two 
years of wretched contention with me, and exposure, and myself 
from two years' cruel and unjust confinement. They as well as I 
reaped the bitter fruits of surrendering their judgments to the pre- 
posterous and impudent claims to confidence of ignorant and 
charlatan practitioners; and of neglecting the complaints of a 
lunatic relation, restored at that time to a purer and truer sense 
of religion and propriety than they possessed, although not cor- 
rect in all his understanding. 

For by what right can a doctor presume to pry into the secrets 
of a patient's conscience, who is not only a perfect stranger to him, 
but also a gentleman to overlook the affections and the desires of 
his heart? and what right have his relations to presume on their 
authority to betray a patient's and a gentleman's feelings into 
such hands? They confess themselves ignorant of the nature of the 
disease they handle; they show themselves wilfully so, and it stands 
to reason that as far as the mind and morals are concerned, they 
cannot pretend to so much fitness as the relations of the lunatic; 
moving as mine do in a higher class, educated to finer feelings 
and to use much more consideration. They neglect their duties 
even as surgeons or as physicians; the dictates of common sense 
they make light of; let them mind their own duties at least, before 
they trespass beyond their line. But their impudent presumption 
is beyond calculation. If any particular kindness had been shown 
to me, if any persuasion, exhortation, or investigation, had been 
diligently used towards me, then to pry into my secret griefs or 
follies, might have been excusable; the zeal, however misplaced, 
was consistent But ruined in body and in mind, I was left to 
help myself out of the dilemma as I could, and what is more, 
surrounded with every difficulty. When too, in spite of their 
cruelty and exposure of me, my constitution triumphed over riot 
and severity, where peace and indulgence were required; and my 
mind by its own efforts, shook off the appalling chains of de- 
lusion: these wise, clever, at least cunning men, heaped every 
obstacle in my way to health, in my return to sound society. 
Climbing out of the well into which they had thrown me, the 
stones fell down upon me, wounding and crushing me in my ad- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 187 

The clergymen of the established church ought to have the 
superintendence of the mental wants and infirmities of the de- 
ranged members of then: communion, and the two offices of phy- 
sician to the body and physician to the soul, distinct in nature, 
should be equally respected. Sovereigns in this country, then- 
ministers, and the people have been guilty of a great crime in 
neglecting this important distinction, and the hierarchy have be- 
trayed their office. Yet who can wonder at that who knows how 
they are appointed? A respectable clergyman, however, unless he 
were entitled by the ties of friendship or of affection, would not 
presume to do by treachery or by compulsion, that which these 
men do without any title; and in spite of the remonstrances of 
their patients. There can be only one excuse for a doctor opening 
the letters of his patients, and that is when the patient is without 
friends and without relations who take any interest in him. It 
is obvious, however, that it is unjust that the doctor should at any 
time have a summary control over the patient's correspondence, 
and where a patient has connexions, that in many respects, inter- 
ference in the privacy of that correspondence may be improper; 
whatever mystery may hang over the origin of the disorder of any 
individual, whatever absurdities or worse than absurdities he may 
write, his relations are the most worthy to be first trusted with that 
mystery, and they ought to shield those absurdities and irregulari- 
ties from the ridicule and from the officious scrutiny of strangers. 
They ought to judge after inspection, what parts of the cor- 
respondence may be communicated to the physician, and this not 
without self-respect and the respect due to the character and to 
the misfortunes of one who cannot control his feelings, and who 
exposes the nakedness of his heart, in a state of exasperation and 
of delusion. 

When I left the doctor's parlour for the last time I bowed to 
the old man and Mr. F. F. without speaking. I shook hands with 
the other son, he was not to blame, and had shown me kindness. 

The eldest of the two maliciously replied; "Good bye, Mr. , 

I wish I could give you hopes of your recovery." A vile and cold 
speech towards me, and as it regarded my two unfortunate broth- 
ers: but they deserved it. My relations with Dr. F. were com- 
pulsory. Thank God I knew that I was recovering, and knew their 



i88 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

hollowheartedness; therefore I was more shocked at the possibility 
of such expressions being used to a patient who might not be able 
to endure them, than I was myself discouraged, or disinclined to 
act upon the judgment I had formed of their conduct and of 
their principles. 

SOLI DEO GLORIA. 



CHAPTER XXVIII* 



LETTERS, 

[The following Letters will prove the state of my affections 
at this time towards my family which my illness at least had not 
altered. They are also, to those who will credit me, deserving o 
attention as evidences of the reality of one species of inspiration 
I saw, as upon the paper, every word and stroke almost, before I 
wrote it, I do not contend for the nature of that inspiration.]f 

S P L, [Spencer Perceval] 

Brisslington, Nov. agth [1851?]. 

I HAVE many thanks to give you for your last letter to me, and 
apologies I owe to you for not having replied to it. I wish you, 
however, to think a little more of my situation here. I wish you 
to consider my case a little more spiritually. I wish for change o 
scene, or a change of residencea change of circumstances. Not 
that I am discontented or dissatisfied with the arrangements in 
Dr. F/s asylum, though not altogether, for I ascribe them in the 
greatest part to a most minute and benevolent consideration of 
our wants, mental and temporal; though I do not subscribe to 
the judgment that has concluded in favour of their adoption* 

I should feel glad for the use of my little Greek Testament,;}; 
and Hebrew Grammar, Lexicon, and Bible. 



* From this chapter on, the text is from the 1840 volume (see Introduction, 
p. xxi. The heading "Letters" occurs near the beginning of Chapter IV of 
that volume. GJB. 

f Double brackets are used to indicate Perceval's parenthetical remarks, 
as differentiated from the Editor's additions. GJJ. 

J I asked particularly for my Greek Testament and a Concordance I had 
from a desire to have some object of attachment by me, which I seemed to 
long for. My brother brought me a new Testament and a new Concordance, 
but I felt no delight in them, and refused them because of his conduct. 



igo PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

I should be glad to hear from you as minute an account as you 
can give me of all I spoke or wrote (or whether I wrote any thing 
during my state of derangement in Dublin or Bristol) to you or 
to others, as far as you know, particularly with regard to my con- 
duct towards you in the chaise as we came along from Bristol here, 
or in Bristol, or in Dublin; and with regard to any confessions 
whatsoever, 8cc., which I may have made to you. 

I wish you also to give me as correct an idea as possible of the 
opinion you entertained respecting me, when you left me here, as 
to my state of mind; what you thought me to be; as also when you 
came here in July or June. This in order to further correspond- 
ence; and also in order to assist in clearing my ideas in certain 
moods of mind, and to lead to further disclosures probably towards 
you and others. 

I wish also very much for information with regard to my 
mother's and brothers' and sisters' opinion of me; as also with 
regard to their spiritual state at present, particularly with regard 
to the Row Heresy. 

I wish also to write to me sincerely what he thinks of me, 

or what he inferred of my condition, mental, spiritual, and re- 
ligious, from my demeanour, language, and conversation. 

I pray you to beseech him to do it, with earnest prayer to be 
guided by the Holy Spirit. 

I received the other day (the 25th) a beautiful and kind letter 
from poor E A Perceval. 

The cause of my madness, Spencer, is this: That all things 
about me do appear to me so beautiful and so lovely, through the 
Holy Spirit, which is upon me and in me, and through me unto 
them, and in them or upon them and through them unto me, that 
I do not know how to behave myself to any thing about me* as I 
should do, in a reasonable manner: and I have an inward tormen- 
tor and an outward tormentor, harassing and tormenting, reprov- 
ing me for (being a hypocrite) hypocritising before them; for 
loving them too much, and not reproving them in spirit, or in 
word, or in demeanour; and at the same time accusing me, and 
taunting me, and ridiculing me, and agonizing me in a worse 
manner, for being uncharitable in all my attempts to reason in 
any way so as to come to any conclusion whatever, with regard to 

* My state of mind was perhaps like that of those of whom we say all their 
"geese are swans." It may have arisen from a disinclination to acknowledge 
other realities, besides the beauties of the objects which attracted me; but it 
appeared to me at the time to be sincere, because I had no quiet and time to 
reflect, and to detect what I was really thinking about, what were my real 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 191 

their real worth, merit, or actual spiritual state. Moreover, in 
attempting to do a duty of any kind, I am immediately assailed 
with doubts, and fears, and scruples, and anxiety of heart and 
mind, and body too at times; so that my nature, or a hypocritical 
fear upon me, makes me find that my nature shrinks from doing it. 
At the same time I feel it right, and that it must be done; and I 
can have no peace of mind, or heart, or conscience, unless it is 
done; at the same time, in doing it, I load my heart and conscience 
with agonies of mind and spirit. Even as I was writing to you my 
eyeballs seemed seared, and knives to be in my eyes. I will explain 
to you the reason of this. Spencer, you might have saved me from 
much of my agony on board-ship, and on my miserable, melan- 
choly, horrible, agonizing bed, in Dublin and Bristol. You do not 
know what insanity is; but you are a spiritual man; and you should 
have weighed every thought, every word, every motion, every 
feature, and expression of my features, in Dublin. All I remember 
of you is, that your conduct was most affectionate towards me; but 
you could have done more for me; for you believed the miraculous 
power of God Almighty to preserve his elect. 

I threw* away the use or exercise of my judgment, or rather 
power of reasoning, or gave it up, or fancied that, and believed 
that, I had given it up, through horror (as I believe till this moment 
in part): a fear, alarm, and terror united, and yielding myself up 
to sloth. The exercise of my reason, it has now become apparent 
to me, or, I believe I should almost venture to say it has been 
revealed to me. Pity me, Spencer, that I cannot write distinctly 
my circumstances I feel and find, in the present state of my mind, 
most cruel.f . . . 

After some delay, I procured paper to write another, a letter 
which I addressed to my mother. The foul copy runs as follows; 
but the one sent differed probably in many points: 

Brisslington, December 11, 1831, 
DEAREST MOTHER, 

I was very glad to receive your last letter, as I feared you might 
have been offended by my last, or have misunderstood my mean- 
ing, when I wrote to say that I found it painful to write. 

The smell of your lettersj has always brought me to a sound 
state of feeling, or rather has been a proof to me that I was in as 

* I had written "through" instead of "threw" I observed upon it in the 
margin thus "Tnis is LUNACY. Inadvertence the world calls it." 

t The part of this letter from "The cause of/' was not sent if I remember 
rightly; and the beginning o it, perhaps, modified. 

J My mother kept her letter-paper in a drawer with musk. 



iga PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

sound a state of mind as that I used to be in at Ealing and Harrow. 
For often I am miraculously, by which I mean, contrary to the 
common laws of nature, deprived of all power to smell at all. 

I am not at all surprised that I am not yet in a state of mind 
to write coherently to you; nor have been restored to it, till lately, 
in any degree; as I have not been in circumstances or in society to 
which I have been at all accustomed; or which have been in any 
way suited to my habits of feelings or principles, as a gentleman 
as a man of education as a man of feeling as a member of the 
outward and visible, or of the inward and spiritual church. 

Herein I am compelled, in order to deal frankly and truly, and 
sincerely, to attribute some culpability to you, and much to poor 
Spencer; as you have, I conceive, heard, at all events, though you 
have not been (being afraid to judge for yourself) confessing to 
yourself, not only that it was materially likely to contribute to my 
discomfort, to wound and destroy my finest and most delicate 
feelings, (wherein I suppose you may have been consoling your- 
selves as a punishment, or eventually a cure for my former mis- 
conduct* in the parlour, the room in which I am now writing,) 
but that it was destructive in itself to the moral tone and spiritual 
frame of my mind. I feel confident that if you had confessed this 
to your Redeemer, you would not have been allowed to continue 
in error any longer respecting the unsuitableness of the society, 
manners, and manner of thinking of almost all around me, to the 
peculiar disposition of my mind, of which you, but still more 
Spencer Perceval was fully aware. 

As far as I can at present understand it, I can hardly conceive 
any thing more damnable than Dr. F.'s plan in some of the details; 
at the same time they are to be pitied, for they do not consult 
scripture, but their own experience alone; and they do not know 
whose ministers they are when they depart from the truth, from 
ideas of meaning well. 

* After what I have written, I need scarcely observe, that the idea of 
punishing lunatics is wicked and preposterous. I will not, however, shock the 
prejudices of humanity, and the interests of a certain class in society, by assert- 
ing this proposition too roundly. The idea of punishing all lunatics, then, is 
wicked and preposterous. I think society will agree with me that it should not 
be left to doctors and their servants to decide which. I suspect it will be found 
that women, old men, and children, are the best guards of violent lunatics, if 
their situation is respected. But if force is necessary, then two or three able 
men should be at hand to overpower the patient immediately, and to prevent 
the use of unnecessary violence, arising from the fear or spite of the person 
resisting him. There is a great difference between force applied to prevent an 
improper action, and blows given, or language used to correct the patient 

f/vr rininor fhat wTrirh his delusions tell him it is his dutV tO do. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 193 

[Here the spirit guided my hand to write some characters re- 
sembling the Arabic, and the name of one of my sisters, who had 
studied Persian when a girl; and I find these words interlined: 
I may say with Pontius Pilate, "What I have written, I have 
written."] 

I have written a more full account of my feelings to Spencer, he 
will communicate to you my wishes with regard to my removal 
from hence; also with regard to my request to have a letter in 
pencil, written to me by Mary Campbell, which I used to carry 
about my person in Dublin, sought for, and I now earnestly request 
opened (if he will read it in diligent faith and prayer to understand 

and respect it), by him or D alone; and not show it to 

or to , and then sealed and taken great care of till I 

can receive it from his own hand, as I hope to see him soon, before 
I go to E [Ealing] or to my future abode. 

To-day, as I was going to write to you, the domestic came and 
said to myself and to an old clergyman who was writing with me, 

"I want the ink, sir, if you please." He took my pen out of , 

I naturally, through the goodness of Christ Jesus to me, yielded it 
instantly, putting my pen into the inkstandish for it was one of 
those old leaden things you see in schools, or counting-houses. I 
was afterwards reproved by my conscience for yielding it prema- 
turely, as, if I was in a right state of mind I should have rebuked 
him in manner, or by word of mouth. If I understand the system 
of Dr. Fox's house now, we are allowed to go on as pigs till we come 
to a right state of mind. That is to say, the lunatic, under which 
term is of necessity included the idea of a person unwilling, except 
at intervals, or unable to judge for himself, for some infliction of 
Divine Providence, which he cannot without divine assistance 
overcome, and therefore under the necessity of having others to 
think for him, is at the same time under circumstances of peculiar 
perplexity to his understanding, because he is treated with a mix- 
ture of benevolence and insult at the same time (for I consider out- 
ward manner and innuendoes, and deprivation of personal liberty, 
and conveniences to which one has been accustomed, a more cruel 
method of insulting even than open violence, and personal rating 
and abuse) is, I repeat, at the same time visited with all the con- 
sequences of his inability to reason for his own self, or (rather as it 
appears to me in many instances) for his Maker's glory, as if he had 
a finer and superior judgment and discernment than those to 
whose control and superintendence he is subjected; and this under 
a state of mind already too heavily laden with sorrow and oppres- 
sion, and doubts and wounds, and anxieties, to be able to control 
his feelings amidst the rubs of general society; having usually a 
nobler mind, probably, than half the world of tergiversant, mire- 



194 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 



fleeting hypocrites around him, he is made a lunatic because he sees 
consequences or difficulties in actions from which he shrinks, and 
which he considers himself unprepared to overcome, which the 
world are lunatically blind to, because they will not reason for 
their Maker's honour at all. 

I say we are allowed to go on in a state of want even of personal 
liberty and clothing, till we are sensible of not being treated as we 
are at least accustomed to be treated; and then being sensible 
that we are in a state of mind and body too, which requires some 
control and some restraint, and some deprivation at least, if not 
punishment we are supposed to be capable of reasoning exactly 
as to how far we may be intended to consider ourselves entitled to 
those indulgences or necessaries of life, and to that liberty to which 
we have been born, as well as to find out in what spirit we have 
been deprived of them. Now pray do consider the blasphemous 
and damnable way in which you must, and Spencer must, and Dr. 
Fox must be thinking of lunatics, in considering us and treating 
us as reasonable beings, and shutting us up and dealing towards 
us under the idea a being deprived of the power of reason: when 
I assure you that for a long time I considered it contrary to my 
conscience to speak at all, and unable to obey my Maker excepting 
in making use of the most extraordinary phrases and appellations; 
and it only just now struck me, with a force of truth, that my duty 
at least most evidently was to have inquired (supposing my con- 
science allowed me) of. Dr. Fox, what was the intention of their 
conduct and arrangements towards me. 

What led me to this consideration was the fact of having been 
led by my Saviour to consider whether I and the gentleman who 
was with me, were not in fact trespassing against good manners in 
making use of another Christian's property without considering 
whose it was (if the old clergyman was not considering it) for I was 
not; and whether it was not our duty to expect or to request to be 
provided with other means of writing, as I am in doubt now, 
whether I am not indebted to the domestic's bounty for using the 
ink and inkstand. This is the perplexity of feeling to which I am 
still, and have been often reduced; murdered as I have been at the 
same time by the consciousness that I am at intervals capable of 
judging minutely for mine own wants and those of others, and 
that I am consequently suspecting others uncharitably, some- 
times, in consequence of inability to control my feelings in ill- 
humour, because in doubt and perplexity, wearied out of all pa- 
tience: and myself suppose myself to be suspected of an indecent 
disregard to my own best interests. 

This arises from what I consider in the world sinful in a system 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 195 

towards lunatics, who are often simpletons; damnable in the ex- 
treme, for it is a contradiction of the first principles of your reason- 
ing concerning lunatics; it is an express violation of that rule, "do 
no evil that good may come;" and that other word of light to those 
who will apply it to themselves, "all false ways I utterly abhor." 
This is communicated to me of the infinite goodness of my God, 
whose servant I am, though I have been, I know now too truly, 
delivered over to our infernal enemy in whose abodes of misery 
I am confined.* 

December 12. 

I have written this in hurry and agitation of spirits, and I 
hope you will excuse my disregard to order, method, and good 
writing. 

I copied out part of this letter, and suppressed a great part of 
it before I sent it. On being about to send it by the post, I was in- 
formed that my first letter to my brother was not yet gone. I was 
then very indignant; for my circumstances were circumstances of 
great perplexity and suffering, and I longed to come to an under- 
standing about them, and to be delivered from them. This must 
have been about the i8th of December, for I enclosed the above 
in an envelope directed to my eldest brother, with the following 
lines and date, so that my letter was detained at least three weeks: 

* I allude here to the different kinds of inspiration I was sensible of, and 
I beg to remark again, that the whole, or nearly the whole of these letters, and 
those I sent from Dr. Fox's house, were visibly inspired to me, that is, I saw 
on the paper, in different handwritings, the words before I wrote them. This 
is a fact; modern philosophy that is, modern infidelity may disbelieve or 
reason, as they call it, from this as it will; but I saw on the paper the sentences 
before I wrote them; and they were prompted so fast, and shifted so rapidly, 
that I had difficulty to choose which I would write each spirit prompted me 
in a different style, and in a different handwriting. I can, therefore, now believe 
that persons may be able to discover, to a certain extent, the character or dis- 
position of others by their writing. Let me observe that I find these letters, 
on re-perusing them, much more coherent than I expected; but the handwriting 
is so minute, feeble, and irregular, that my family might be excusable in dis- 
respecting them; because the world do not respect so much what is written or 
spoken, as who writes or speaks it. But, whilst from an early age I have been 
accustomed to doubt the best man's word I have always thought it my duty 
to receive, and examine the word of the humblest individual. A liar may speak 
truth; a wise man may utter folly a child or a fool may speak wisdom. 



ig6 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

DEAR SPENCER, 

I enclose you this letter to my poor mother, and request you to 
ask her to return it to you to read when she has read it with atten- 
tion. In it I make allusions to a letter I have written to you, which 
I intended solely for your private perusal. Dr. F. F. has considered 
himself authorized to open it without my permission, and in defi- 
ance of God Almighty's appeal to his conscience, which must have 
made him to consider what relationship he stands in with regard 
to yourself and me, as also what title he had to do that without my 
cognizance, which I had twice or three times shown him that I had 
reason for wishing him not to do. In the hurry of my spirits, not 
recollecting all that was in the letter, I told him that I was glad 
and so perhaps I still might be in part for some reasonsat his 
having opened the letter, in spite of my having confided in his 
sense of gentlemanly feeling to do nothing, at least without telling 
me of it, or preparing me for it beforehand. I have twice since 
then requested him to forward that letter, for it cost me much to 
write at all upon the subject on which I have written;* to my sur- 
prise and indignation, and mortification, after twice having told 
me it should go, he has detained it. I am impatient at this state of 
control and restraint, as also of the society in which I have been 
forced to remain so long: and I beg that you will write to Dr. F., 
and desire him to forward my letter to you. I am anxious to have 
some communication with you by writing, previous to any per- 
sonal interview consequent upon my removal hence; if not imme- 
diate. But I am resolved to send no other letter to you or my 
mother than the one I enclose to you, unless I am secure of private 
correspondence, except it be a mere verbal answer to your obser- 
vations and inquiries. 

I am thinking of writing to Edward, to ask him to accompany 
me abroad to Italy. I cannot express to you at times the acute 
agony and indignation which I feel, at the thoughts of my letter 
to you having been opened and read by any one besides yourself 

Give my affectionate love to and and to little , 

and , and poor little L , and the other little children, and 

believe me 

Your very affectionate brother, 

Dec. 19, 1831. JOHN PERCEVAL. 

* I cannot describe the pain of mind, and head of fire, with which I often 
wrote. Considering my situation it was not wonderful. The doctors, for these 
reasons I understand, often refuse pen and ink to their patients: if their treat- 
ment was really humane they might have reason; but I should perhaps never 
have recovered but by the means thus afforded me of controlling and concen- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 197 

DEAREST MOTHER, 

I received your letter on Monday afternoon, and I am much 
obliged to you for having replied to it immediately. I am thankful 
to God Almighty and to you for your kindness in considering my 
probable anxiety about receiving an answer as soon as possible; 
more especially as I had written with much trouble of mind and 
consumption of time; and had besides given it to be delivered into 
Dr. Fox's room, on Tuesday afternoon, before the post left the 
house. I have reason to believe that he detained it, at least, one 
day; but I had also hopes that it would have reached you on Friday 
evening, by his own admission, which he made to me on Thursday, 
that it was gone. My agony of mind and my indignation is and 
was great at his having presumed to interfere with my correspond- 
ence at all: having previously shown my displeasure concerning 
this on another occasion. Of course, therefore, I was at times un- 
controllably agitated, by the idea and disappointment of not ob- 
taining an answer from you before the ensuing week; not only 
from your not having time, but perhaps from your thinking it 
wise and your duty to delay answering me, in obedience to some 
counsels of his, or hasty impressions of your own. For I have sus- 
picions, I think well founded, that he has tampered with the cor- 
respondence of my friends, at least with that of my mother, and 
my brother with me. At least, I cannot otherwise account for your 
mockery of me, and total, except in one instance, indifference con- 
cerning any communication with me. 

I call your letter a reply to mine, as it is not an answer. I am 
thankful to you for the only communication which has yet been 
made to me, or, or likely to be of, any real importance or conse- 
quence to my tranquillity of mind even and body. I allude to that 
which regards your state of belief concerning the miracles wrought 
upon those who are the authors of what is called the Row Heresy. 
Grieved as I am that you should be doubting their divine source, 
and conscious as I am that my misconduct may lead you to doubt 
the sincerity of them, and the holiness of their . . . . ; and that 
the awful calamity with which it has pleased God Almighty to 
visit me, may be looked upon as the fruit of enthusiastic blind 
obedience and adoption of their principles, or to their system of 
doctrine and practice, instead of disobedience to, and doubtless 
want of reliance, in the counsel and admonitions of the Holy 
Spirit, which dwelleth in them and through them, and about them 
and in me; yea, even to their written exhortations. I feeling as 
I do, though not yet as I should do, I am nevertheless glad to be 
no longer in suspense with regard to the state of belief on this 
momentous subject of those who are most dear to me in the flesh. 
And I should have been glad if your communication had been 



198 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

more particular. It relieves me of a great burden, as I now know 
how I may account for much of your behaviour concerning me; 
and can reason with myself and hold communion with my con- 
science and my Creator in prayer or meditation, concerning your 
probable motives for silence on these subjects, and on the course 
which I may have to pursue. I should have been saved from much 

acute misery and anxiety, and perhaps might have been at E 

[Baling] in a firm state of mind, if you had been allowed to do, as 

I am confident you or S [Spencer] would have done, if you had 

obeyed your own natural impulses of sympathy with, and attach- 
ment or tenderness for, the anxieties of an even ordinarily-gifted 
and religiously-disposed person. I loved your letters as they were 
oh! pray consider it the only tie which kept up any communica- 
tion of idea, or feeling, or interest with my . . . , excepting 

S 's [Spencer's] one visit, and one letter to me early in the year. 

But it was mockery of me, of your own self and of my understand- 
ing, my best feelings of the only feelings which are really worth 
considering in the intercourse of of one professor of Christianity 
with another, to write to me merely concerning family arrange- 
ments, addressing me only as a person clothed with natural affec- 
tions, and that too, usually, as if I were under all the accustomed 
circumstances of ordinary society. 

I should have been more happy still, if you had been particular 
with regard to giving me information, as well, concerning my 
sisters' individual opinions. I wrote to ask Spencer concerning 
their belief in the miracles, as well as yours. I fear you may think 
it unaffectionate in me, that I should not have written to ask you. 
If I had not previously written to him, and had more thoughts to 
write about to you than I can arrange or control, I should prob- 
ably have done so, and preferred addressing the question to you. 

My allusion to my sisters, reminds me of a remark I have made 
on your letter to me, that my sisters, as well as yourself had great 
pleasure in seeing by my letter that the powers of my mind, &c. 
are gaining ground. I think this remark proves to me, as I con- 
cluded also from other parts of your letter, that you have answered 
it without consideration. As I made an observation in it with 

regard to writing to I , which I could wish that you had frankly 

alluded to and contradicted if not true, I ought perhaps to have 
asked explicitly a corroboration of it: it was a statement of Dr. 
Fox to me, that my sisters were not acquainted with my state of 
mind. I remember now that in a former letter you mentioned the 
family as participating in your joy and happiness at the receipt of 
my first letter. I wish to be particularly informed as to the truth 
of Dr. F. F [Fox] having any authority from you to make such 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 199 

an assertion: considering it contradicted by your expressions in 
your last letter, I have refused him my hand and my confidence, 
and all communication with him that is not absolutely necessary, 
as I think he has been on this; and it leads me to suspect also on 
other occasions not acting in a straightforward, open, gentlemanly 
manner towards me; but under pretence, probably, of seeing 
whether I was exercising my own judgment, or to pry into the 
state of my feelings; condescending to leave the noble path of 
truth, by an unmanly, unjustifiable, cruel, and by what, when our 
relative rank in society is considered, I conceive an uncalled for 
and impudent falsehood. Nor is the wound inflicted upon the 
heart the only mischief to which I am exposed; but such untrue 
conduct is loathsome towards a lunatic, as he is already wounded 
with doubts and anxieties, which he finds himself often debarred 
from the means of solving, or relieving, or remedying the causes 
from which they spring; and I might have had (besides the horror 
of believing it possible, that my sisters were not prepared for, nor 
suspecting the awful blow which might come upon them unexpect- 
edly, of hearing that their brother was in a lunatic asylum) not 
only to have debated with myself under all the disadvantages of a 
deluded and deranged mind, how far I was entitled, or in duty 
bound to take steps to inform them of it; but also without suffi- 
cient grace to endure the anxieties of all those measures being 
thwarted, impeded, or put a stop to, by the impertinence of those 
around me, by the inconveniences of my situation, through sus- 
picion, jealousy, mistrust, contempt, neglect, or what is still more 
tantalizing, the misconceived prudence and benevolence of my 
relations, and of those with whom I had to do. 

This is one among the number of gross insults and outrages, 
to which at times my holiest and inmost feelings have been entirely 
exposed during the state of delusion and lunacy, and perplexing 
conflicts between contending duties, in which I have been bound 
down by the Almighty. I am grieved to think that I am obliged 
to complain to you at all, much more that I should be reduced, by 
being no longer able to control at times my indignation or im- 
patience of my position here, to complain to you in this manner. 
But remember I do not condescend to complain to you for your 
counsel, or advice, or opinion. I am sorry to do so; but after the 
manner in which you have, together with Spencer, left me, in a 
state of defenceless and broken-heartedness, to be taken charge of, 
and to be put under the control of, and associated with persons of 
a tone of mind less refined than that which I have been accustomed 
to meet with even in your domestics at Ealing; and as it appears 
to me habitually deadened to the consideration of respect for age, 



200 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

rank, or misfortune, and brutally ignorant of the habits of a 
gentleman; after you have left me either in ignorance, which 
argues the want of true Christian love, and much want of natural 
affection, or in slothful and negligent acquiescence to the coun- 
sels of Dr. Fox for a whole year, nearly in constant communication 
with such persons, as well as with lunatics of every description, 
but one, perhaps that is, of high birth and gentlemanly manners 
and habits; in constant communication, I say, besides exposure to 
their observation under every stage of feeling and passion, or 
apathy, or agitation, in despair or in hope, without permission, 
(I now have found to my confusion of thought, and amazement of 
understanding,) even if I had wished it, to have a private room 
for one moment after, I say, having permitted me to be the victim 
of such a system of spiritual treatment, . . . 

When I found that my family were still blinded by the Doctor, 
and did not respect my remonstrances as they ought to have done, 
I thought that it would be right to communicate with some mu- 
tual friend, who might convince them of and reprove them for their 
error; and turning about in mind whom to address, the spirits 
directed me to write to Mr. R. Ryder, my father's dearest friend: 
at the same time they intimated to me, to lose no time, as though 
they foresaw his approaching death, which took place, indeed, in 
the ensuing year* I wrote the following notes, but I doubted if it 
would be right to send the letter; shrinking also from exposing 
myself. 

I have been now a whole year nearly Mr. R , under cir- 
cumstances of the most painful and trying nature, and such is my 
sense of them, that although I do hope to be delivered from them 
immediately, at least through your interference, I still think the 
persons who exposed me to diem should receive, from some person 
to whose authority they may defer, rebuke and well deserved re- 
proof. In a state of such extraordinary superstitious delusion and 
credulity, in a fancied spirit of inspiration from the Lord and from 
God Almighty, as to worship a common lunatic attendant, or 
keeper, of the most reckless, and to say the least of him, thoughtless 
character, publidy and privately, and throughout the fields and 
villages of this neighbourhood, as the Lord Jesus; and to adore 
another lunatic as the Lord Jehovah supremely omnipotent; be- 
sides committing a thousand other more foolish extravagancies; 
I have been deserted without compassion by my mother and 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 201 

and physicians, (Dr. Fox a converted or relapsed Quaker,) and I 
have been confined, under their system to a gloomy room, for a 
whole year, in the company of twelve or more lunatics, individuals, 
for the most part, of no rank, no birth, little education, no man- 
ners, and thoroughly dead to all gentlemanly and moral feelings, 
and I may say moral habits, to which I have been accustomed, to 
which I have been educated, and to which I have clung from my 
father's cradle until now. 

I have been exposed, sir, I say, to this state of things, now nearly 
a whole year, continually, (without leave, or liberty, or permission 
to retire, even in my moments of acutest agony and consciousness 
of despair and degradation and lost station in society, to a private 
apartment:) to the insults of low vulgar keepers, and the mockery 
and derision of lunatic infidels and atheists. Had I been raving 
mad, or guilty of acts of malice, and unprovoked violence, extra- 
ordinary indignation against myself or my maker, or my attend- 
ants, I could have borne to have been treated with much more re- 
straint if it were possible, and more personal violence than I have 
been. But a state of unparalleled delusion, and abominable hy- 
pocrisy, sottishness, stupidity, idiotcy, under which I groaned and 
struggled, and loathed and hated and abhorred my own soul; and 
panted and fainted, and struggled against the impressions of a 
horrible dream, against a something, nothing, a fanciful fear, 
which appeared to bind . 

I write to you not only for my own sake, but in hopes that you 
may yet have time spared to you by the Almighty to take into con- 
sideration and lay before a member of either House of Parliament, 
the 

Mr. R r, I have had my head I assure you struck against the 

wall by one of the attendants here, and that repeatedly, with such 
violence as I should have been afraid to make use of myself towards 
a person in a sound state of mind for fear of driving him into a 
state of derangement and delirium, and on two occasions but on 
one especially with such force, pujc To<rccuT, that I believed at the 
time that I could only be healed of a broken and fractured skull 
by divine and miraculous power. You may conceive our, or at 
least my state of helplessness and delusion, and simple humility, 
and obedience, which you will call lunacy and idiotcy, when I 
acknowledge to you, that though surprised at the time at such 
violence being offered to my person, I yet endured it patiently and 
thankfully, not only without a murmur or complaint, as whole- 
some perhaps to my mind, as the duty of the person who used it, 
in respect of his situation towards me and his employer and as a 
thing to which my lunacy exposed me; and never dreamt of its 
being my duty to complain of it to young Dr. Fox or old Dr. Fox. 



202 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

It was done to me I remember on two several occasions against the 
wall of a dark cell which served as the antechamber to two baths, 
and to which it was their custom in a morning to take me, and 
throw me in head foremost, during the cold winter months of last 
year. I was then as far as I can remember accurately, in the habit 
of resisting the men who came to take me to the bath every morn- 
ing, as I believe in order to punish me. If they had struck me then, 
I could have accounted for their conduct, I thought I was obeying 
a fancied, nay a positive command from God Almighty to do so, 
in fear of the wrath of God, in fear otherwise of becoming de- 
ranged, in other words of hell-fire, if I did not do it a command 
given me by inspiration, that is, I mean by the hearing of an 
audible and beautiful, and articulate voice sometimes about me, 
or within the room, sometimes by my bedside, sometimes in my 
head or skull. (In order that you may receive what I say as at least 
astonishing, for I can hardly expect you to believe it as yet; and 
that you may understand perhaps scripture more fully, and me 
too, or believe what I tell you to be possible and probable by com- 
paring my words together, I refer you to those passages in scripture, 
where it is written that the word of the Lord came to Isaiah and 
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, and other prophets,) I say although I 
was obeying often, I may, in one sense say always, this voice, in 
seizing and wrestling with the persons who came to me, yet I could 
have borne with violence if they had resisted me then with pi$, 
with force, for that was intelligible, and I could understand men 
punishing the absurdities and apparently unreasonable conduct 
of a mistaken and misguided conscience; but usually, though 
overpowered by numbers, I was not struck on those occasions. 

It may be that I was quietly refusing to put on my stockings in 
obedience to some spirit of delusion, of fun and frolic, or good 
humour; for I loved him with a love that I cannot express; for this 
too I used often to do in obedience to the word of God, as I sup- 
posed, to learn to be beautified by God's salvation, in obeying the 
spirit of agility and activity and lightness at the same time. I used 
to do it partly understanding and having heard from the same 
voice, that it was agreeable to and expected by my keeper of me or 
from me; supposing him also to be inspired, and to know my in- 
most thoughts: but I could hardly believe this delusion, though 
through fear of God's wrath and of hell-fire I acted upon it for 
I feared Hobbs' wrath and anger, and impatience and impenitence, 
(and malice too, though I was not aware of this until now). I 
feared his impatience because I did not believe that he could bear 
patiently with conduct, which to me was worth the value of my 
soul and salvation at the time; nor consider for a moment that it 
with, and that however apparently wilful and 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 203 

unreasonable, and done on purpose to irritate or provoke, it might 
be reasonable in a lunatic; it is reasonable for me or a lunatic to 
say, that such patience, such consideration is due from a lunatic 
attendant on his patient. 

It may be, that I was about in fact, or according to his sus- 
picions, to have proceeded to an act of resistance in raving madness, 
or derangement; but was he entitled to proceed immediately 
against me, even if I were so, without first attempting patient or 
mild measures. 

It may be that he was conscious that I was hypocritising before 
my maker Was he to be my castigator morumf 

It may be that he knew, or thought, I was affecting to do it in 
obedience to my conscience, but in order really to annoy and vex 
him; but was he not to use reproof, or earnest exhortation, or 
persuasion, or entreaty? 

Persuasion 1 I have hardly heard a note of persuasion unac- 
companied with authoritative, insulting, or sarcastic reproof, and 
that from inferiors, since I have been in this house. 

You may consider in the first place what is my indignation, 
now I am come to a more sound state of mind, at having been left 
under a state of things in which such treatment should have been 
possible or probable. "What it might have been, to have been en- 
during the probability of such treatment from my superiors, or 

equals even from gentlemen from my brother , or uncle , 

much more from my inferiors, and inferiors of the lowest descrip- 
tion. 

But what am I to conceive of a system of treatment which could 
expose me, me a man of honour and a gentleman, to the possibility, 
nay, more than that, the probability of such treatment? I add more, 
me, or any other human being, under a state of delusion and con- 
fusion of conscience, intellect, and judgment, under a state of 
complete destitution of religious feeling, at times, and of gross 
irritation, and want of all comforts. My lunacy was of a kind 
perhaps that tempted cowards to offer me this insult; and now 
when I look back upon it, I feel indignant and surprised that I did 
not, in my state of lunacy perpetrate, as I might have done, the 
murder of the individual who offered it to me. 

From the above letters,* it is evident that my mind was still 

* In a letter to one of my sisters I suggested, by command as I thought of 
my Saviour, that the drains at home should be cleaned, as a security against 
infection from the cholera morbus. I wrote also concerning some books I 
wished to be made a present of; and suggested that my netting-needles, &c., 
should be sent to me. 



204 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

deranged when I wrote them; but there is no symptom of want of 
affection to my family, although that indignation which I felt at 
my exposure and betrayal to such treatment, occasionally finds 
vent, which, perhaps, even then ought to have overborne all other 
considerations; but which afterwards certainly broke out into ex- 
pressions of hatred and revenge, when I found my remonstrances 
slighted, my word disrespected; a preference given to the opinions 
of those who had ill-treated me, and under whose power I was, 
whilst impugning their characters; and my person exposed to 
fresh violence and insult. It will be seen also from these letters, 
that in spite of the powers of mind I had, I was unable to come to 
any thing like a correct conclusion of the intention of the treat- 
ment used towards me; looking still on the result of a coarse and 
severe regimen applied heedlessly to all characters, as on a punish- 
ment to my individual case. The effects also of my seclusion and 
want of employment, may be remarked in my minute attention to 
trifling matters. 

In answer to these letters, I received kind but short and com- 
monplace answers from my mother. In the first or second of these, 
she refused me a private room, stating that the doctor's suggestions 
were to be attended to; this drove me in one sense mad, and filled 
me with alarm. From this commenced my violent and insolent 
demeanour to my family. In the next, a private room was ordered 
for me, and hints that other plans were being thought of: but by 
that time I was standing out on other rights, and so, unfortunately, 
I continued being irritated by the refusal of every successive de- 
mand, till it was too late to receive it as an obligation, and then I 
was taunted with being never satisfied. 

These letters wounded my feelings by their style, which was 
such as might be addressed to a person in ordinary circumstances; 
by their neglect of passages in my letters, and particular remon- 
strances, and by their complete silence on any of my arguments: 
dealing with me as with a child, who had no option but to obey. 
But in this respect I learnt not till after my release, that my mother 
was bound down by her credulity in the opinions of the doctors; 
and even at times, by her fears of irritating them to do me a mis- 
chief, by expressing her opinions too openly whilst I was under 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 205 

their power. Had I known any of this, had any of these excuses 
been made to me, I should have been saved from much painful 
intercourse and altercation. 

On the expressions used by my servant, respecting my trousers, 
I find the following notes and deliberation, written about this time. 

trousers, or hedge . 

Did he mean to insult me as a gentleman, under his power and 
control? 

Did he mean to insult me as a lunatic, deeming me a hypocrite 
or coward, irresolute and despicable? 

Did he mean to insult me as a lunatic, to try me, to wound my 
feelings as a gentleman, or as a minister of the word of God? be- 
lieving it his duty. 

In the first place, how could I proceed? Could I complain to 
Dr. Fox and expose myself to his revenge and cruelty. 

I had to condemn you (my brother) before Dr. Fox and Dr. F. 
Fox, for putting me under such control. Such a scoundrel about 
me. 

Was it my duty to rebuke one, who was only tempting me to 
reprove him, and so spend my breath in vain? 

How could I bear it; yet how could I endure it unrebuked? 

I believe it was because he saw that I disliked it, and loved to 
hurt those feelings of delicacy which I have yet remaining? 

I should have reproved him, and warned him of complaining 
to Dr. Fox. 

Why did I not? 

ist. How could I reprove, having been a gross sinner and idiot 
here, and being in punishment for my offence; knowing too that 
I was a disgusting object of compassion for hypocrisy. 

sd. I was in delusion, and thought him to be the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and how could I rebuke the Lord? 

If I had acted as a man of courage, I should have forbidden 
him to make use of such language again. If as a natural man and 
a true Englishman I should have knocked him down. This was 
my real duty perhaps. Then I should have been respected by God 
Almighty, but strangled by the man, or put into a madhouse for 
ever and ever. 



2o6 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

[A Letter from Dr. Fox, Senior] 

Brisslington House, Jan. 30. 
MY DEAR SIR, 

I would not have troubled you with writing had not age by 
interfering with my powers of speech prevented me from expressing 
myself as clearly as I could wish; and from uttering those feelings 
that your recently excited state would naturally elicit. 

If you have any power of reminiscence, consider to what a de- 
graded condition of mind you were reduced only a few weeks ago. 
Should I at that time have been justified in allowing a correspond- 
ence with persons not of your own family?* Many of your com- 
panions, like you give me letters addressed to people whom they 
had never known. I receive such letters and they are satisfied. But 
it would be worse than madness in me to suffer them to proceed 
except to their friends. This rule therefore is not confined to your 
case. I told you however that I was glad to consider your state of 
mind improved, which enabled me to address you more as a reason- 
able being; therefore to deal candidly with you, I must without any 
judgments on its contents, send every thing you write for your 
mother and brother's approbation. Could any thing be fairer? 
but you give it a different interpretation and allow your mind to 
run into a state of exasperation badly according either with a 
soundness of understanding, or with the Christian principle of 
humility and forbearance. 

What you mean by reviling Hobbs I don't understand he was 
placed to wait upon you because he was gentle and considerate. 
Has he at any time been obliged to resort to power: I believe it 
will be found that violence and erroneous obstinacy on your part 
first provoked it. I must own that it not a little surprised me, 
that you, as a humble follower of Christ, would think of him, or 
any other as your inferior. Do we not know that God is no re- 

* I do not know to what period Dr. F. alluded: unless it was a time when I 
ate my bread and butter with pepper, &c.; but I think this was a long time 
previous to my writing at all. This remark is directed to a complaint I had made 
concerning letters to very intimate friends, whom, I think, at the age of twenty- 
seven, I was fully at liberty to write to, and they competent judges of whether 
I wrote improperly, without a lunatic Doctor's interference, and much more 
fit to be entrusted with my opinions. Upon this pretence a lunatic is deprived 
of all assistance: and the more surely the more he has cause to complain of his 
relations, whose delicate feelings are not to be wounded by the suspicion that 
they are doing wrong, though they are murdering him by inches. J never gave 
Dr. F. a letter but to my earliest friends. Lastly, supposing it to be true, as the 
Dr. so absurdly assumed, that his patients were satisfied at their letters being 
received, though they received no answer; yet that was no argument that I 
should be satisfied, who was exercising my reason. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 207 

specter of persons? [yet I never saw Mr. Hobbs sitting at Dr. 

F 's dinner table.] The apostle declares in the seventeenth 

chapter of Acts, that "he has made all nations of one blood." 

Though owing to the accident of birth, the artificial state of 
society and the advantages of a more refined education, you may 
think yourself his superior, you must not forget that we shall all 
be called to give an account of the talents committed to us. 

The effect of this letter on me at the time, in consequence of the 
subtlety and cunning mockery which runs throughout it, gave 
rise to the suspicion, that the doctor intended to provoke me to 
acts of violence, by puzzling and by innuendo, and by showing 
how he could blind others. There is so much religion and plausi- 
bility in it, and at the same time so much contradiction and dever 
confusion. Even now that suspicion still affects me, whether I 
am to consider that Dr. Fox was acting wittingly, or that from the 
habitual and unchecked practice of imposture he knew not what 
spirit he was of. He who pretended to be preaching on the ways 
of providence, talking on the accident of birthhe who refers to 
the New Testament, casting reflection on the artificial state of 
society, when in the same Testament we are informed, all authority 
is from God and whilst he clung to all the personal advantages 
of that state. 

He again, respecting my education, or pretending to do so, 
and yet confounding my ideas as if refinement of education made 
distinction between individuals only in thought and not in reality. 
He officiously reminding me that I was to give an account of my 
talents at the judgment-seat, when all I had then to do was with 
his lunatic asylum; as if one of the talents I had to give an account 
of was not my judgment, and God knows a mild and temperate 
judgment it then was, considering my state of his horrible system 
of treatment. Let them who are interested in being deceived, be 
deceived. The letter goes on 

In respect of your threats of revenge, I am not the least afraid 
of it; although I do not wonder that you consider those as your 
enemies from whom proceed any repression or control. [This 
was NOT the case, for I supposed myself to need repression and 
control for a long time after this.] But religion will be a mere 
mockery if you can profess to retire and wait upon your Maker in 
prayer, when destitute of that love which betokens a disciple of 



so8 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

Christ, f This is in allusion to my having remarked on the incon- 
sistency of his system with the duties of meditation and prayer; 
in which, by my plainness, I took Satan in his own net.] If how- 
ever, you shall continue to view us in as your enemies, still "fas 
est et ab hoste doceri" I recommend you therefore, to cultivate 
the fear of God, which will so influence all your thoughts, words, 
and actions, that you will think more favourably of all mankind, 
and of your sincere well wisher, 

EDW. LONG Fox. 

The men under whose authority I was placed, both this year 
and after, have ruined my temper and mind; so that I appear 
against them even in my writings at fearful odds! for they have 
all the composure of secure duplicity and cold-blooded malignity, 
of sound skins, and of sound humours whilst I am full of sore 
and angry feelings, and bear the marks of their ill conduct about 
me; but if the fear of God ought to make me think more favorably 
of Dr. Fox, I am indeed a lost soul and spirit: once I scarcely knew 
what it was to utter an oath, but these men made it familiar with 
me to curse and to blaspheme. He ought to have written the 
fear of the devil which will so influence all your thoughts, as to 
make you speak more favorably of all mankind, and of your sin* 
cere well-wisherwhatever may be your opinion. To the above 
letter I began to write the following reply. It was written accord- 
ing to inspiration, that is, I saw the words on the paper before I 
wrote them; they appeared in capital letters, but much more 
beautiful than I could print them. Also, if I recollect right, they 
did not change so swiftly as on other occasions; so that I had more 
time to copy them down: whether this was owing to my having 
more confidence in my cause, and more practice in seizing them, 
or to my being now in a private room at any rate it was owing to 
more quiet and confidence of mind, so that the mirror was not 
so ruffled or so broken. 

[Draft of Reply to Dr. Fox] 
SIR, 

I have received a letter from my mother this afternoon, in which 
she notifies to me her intention to have me removed to another 
asylum. I write to you, therefore, a few words, in answer to your 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 209 

letter to me, which I should otherwise have delayed doing to 
another day. I shall prosecute my appeal to the laws of my country 
for personal liberty from that asylum also, if God permit; or, at 
the least, for leave to choose my own physician unless 

I acknowledge, sir, that my sense of the injuries which my per- 
son has suffered under your treatment, which now that the cloud 
of delusion is burst through, under which God Almighty con- 
founded my judgment, I know to be unlawfully inhuman! to- 
gether with a daily further discovery of the awful consequences 
which your course of management has produced upon my ever- 
lasting happiness, has excited in my mind not only wrath, but 
fury. But if you use the word excited to hint that my indignation 
is lunatic or unjust, I deny it I deny that I could be in a sound 
state of mind without feeling and expressing it; though, being a 
lunatic, I dare not for fear of misconstruction, and often feel that 
I cannot express it through the control of a superior power, I 
cannot express myself as I should, as I can when I have time in 
seclusion to reason with myself. 

I regret and ask your forgiveness for having uttered my senti- 
ments to you in an unmanly, malignant, and I fear disrespectful 
way. But I wished to be upright and sincere, and that you should 
not leave my presence without knowing that revenge is my object, 
which I mean by all lawful means to pursue. I hope the Lord 
would punish me if I shrunk when called upon to do so, from 
confessing one of the attributes of human nature to be mine also. 

This letter I had not time to finish. I told Dr. Francis Fox, 
however, that I would write from my new abode; this was the only 
promise I made that I remember breaking; but during the next 
year I had enough to do, and I reflected that advantage might 
be taken of my expressions, and that it was not fair that I should 
be writing, in my state of excitement and agitation to men, who 
take advantage of every violent expression and of every singularity 
to alarm a patient's relations, and to keep him in a situation from 
which they ought to take every fair opportunity of releasing him, 
by reason o the very nature of his disorder; whilst in the eyes of 
society, and in their own eyes, I doubt not, to a certain degree, 
they are acting for the security of society, and for the individual's 
security. 

"FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO. 
AMEN." 



CHAPTER XXIX 



MY affections ever remained towards my family such as they 
previously were. If by this term is meant an honest desire to serve 
them, to meet them on friendly terms, to hear of their being well 
and happy, they ever have done so; but I resented the ill-treatment 
and barbarous usage to which I had been exposed through their 
neglect of me; and to which, in spite of my remonstrances and my 
appeals to their affection, I was still subjected. This breach be- 
came widened by continued injustice, and this resentment natu- 
rally found expression. Moreover I considered it my duty, if re- 
ligion be true, to convince them of their error, that they might 
acknowledge it to the saving of their souls. It gave me agony of 
mind to reflect, that if there is an hereafter, they might die un- 
convinced, and in an hereafter alone first acknowledge when it 
was too late to repent, the extent of their iniquity. If I could not 
convince them by argument, I conceived it to be my duty then to 
procure their correction by the judgment of a court of law: and I 
conceived this to be a duty I owed to my countrymen, and to my- 
self for my future protection. If I considered this my duty in order 
to obtain their correction for the injuries I had sustained, still 
more did I recognise it as such, and as the only path left for me to 
pursue in order to recover my rights; yet, God knows, how my 
heart ached and my spirits sunk, in spite even of my desires of 
vengeance, to be at variance with my relations, and to think, of 
being compelled to prosecute my own mother. Here, too, I was in 
a straight. The doctors gave me no credit for having any feeling, 
nay, they spoke evil of me, saying my feelings were perverted 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 211 

then that agitation, that suffering, that disorder produced by the 
conflict of different feelings, those of duty and those of affection 
of love to others, and of self-respect and fear for my safety, 
must necessarily be attributed to a deranged intellect; since they 
took no account of the proper and true causes of it. How cruel it 
is to be exposed to the judgment of such infidels; how shameful of 
the legislature, of an aristocratical legislature to allow of it! 

But of what avail is it for a man charged with insanity to 
argue against any calumnies; however gross, however absurd, they 
are believed of him, even because they are contrary to reason. 
Their calumny was also very prejudicial, and acted very cruelly 
upon me, because I am of a turn of mind, that whenever ill is 
spoken of me I always direct my thoughts inward, to examine my 
disposition if it be so or not, and to try my feelings. Thus I lived 
continually suspecting and watching over myself weighing my 
emotions on the recollection of my home, my friends, and my 
family; and, although I found kindly and affectionate feelings 
arise, almost doubting the reality of them, through the bold lies 
told and accredited of me, till my patience was exhausted, and 
perhaps passion, anguish, and perplexity, triumphed over every 
respect and every attachment, and all decorum in my manner of 
thinking. 

But although my affection, at least my affectionate disposition, 
still remained the same to my family, I do not deny that my 
writings often broke out into very sarcastic and violent expressions. 
I could not always overcome my exasperation. But even then I 
was frequently influenced by a spirit of bravado and defiance of 
the doctors, to whom I knew my letters were subjected for inspec- 
tion; I was determined, if they declared that my anger at being 
confined, and at my treatment, was a proof of my madness, that 
they should have evidence enough of it. I was incapable of truck- 
ling to any system so detestable, to any power so hideous, as their 
power. Even a deeper motive lay hid under all this violence of ex- 
pression; and this may perhaps by many be deemed an insane mo- 
tive: I knew that, of all the torments to which the mind is subject, 
there is none so shocking, so horrid to be endured as that of re- 
morse for having injured or neglected those who deserved our 



212 PERCEVAL S NARRATIVE 

esteem and consideration. I felt for my sisters, my brothers, and 
my mother: I knew they could not endure to look upon what they 
had done towards me, to whom they were once so attached, if they 
rightly understood it; that they could know no relief from the 
agony of that repentance which comes too late, gnawing the very 
vitals, but in believing me partly unworthy of their affection; and 
therefore I often gave the reins to my pen, that they might here- 
after be able to justify themselves, saying he has forfeited our re- 
spect, he has thrown aside the regard due to his parentage and to 
his kindred he has deserved our contempt, and merited our aban- 
donment of him. I state my feelings as I recollect them; I do not 
pretend to justify them. It is impossible to suppose that recovering 
from severe illness, after revolting treatment, in shocking circum- 
stances with every spiritual and moral and mental want, recre- 
ation, and amusement neglected passion may not have broken 
through; but it is difficult to say, whether or not in allowing it I 
did not act wisely: where nothing was to be gained by other be- 
haviourhowever decorous and respectful. 

So far, therefore, was it untrue that my affections were alienated 
from my family except by the immediate sense of wrong that I 
regarded them almost with a romantic attachment, at the same 
time I considered it to be my duty to stand up honestly and inde- 
pendently in defence of my rights, and in claiming the attention 
nature pointed out as due to and required by my situation. In 
like manner the charge was equally false that I ever doubted the 
affections of my family to me: I felt deeply the very great injustice 
and absurdity of this charge. It was very unjust because, although 
recovering from delusions, although without scarcely any evidence 
of real care and true affection on the part of my kindred, I did not 
hesitate to ascribe all their neglect to misconception to impotence 
of mind and to credulity; I never questioned, before or after my 
removal from Brisslington, that my family maintained the same 
honest affection for me that they ever did, and that I did to them; 
only at Brisslington I conceived that I was looked upon as worth- 
less having deserved it. It was absurd, because if I disbelieved 
my family's affection towards me, to what end could I be writing 
to them. That the doctors invented this of me is not surprising or 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 215 

astonishing; it was their interest so to do. I might wonder at their 
impudence, as my letters were certainly full of testimony of my 
real feelings in this respect, whatever might have been their viru- 
lence and violence in one particular; but their success shows that 
they have not learnt the trade of dupery for nothing, and that they 
know the extent of human folly only too well. That my family 
should adopt the delusion they thrust upon them surprises, I ac- 
knowledge, and continually perplexes me; for, although I repeat- 
edly denied it, in express terms rejected it, and carefully explained 
that redress for my sufferings was all that I desired that I respected 
and loved them still, and that my anger against them arose solely 
from my treatment, not from my attributing false motives to them 
the charge was constantly repeated. Did they not read my letters, 
or did they deny my words to be true, though they repeatedly 
deprecated the idea of questioning my honour? Or did they sup- 
pose that I was deluded, and did not know my own sentiments; 
ready to believe all evil of me, but no good? Or did they, as I 
imagine, read my letters indeed, but with no attention, alarmed 
at my accusation, and piqued by my addressing them in a tone o 
superiority, whilst attacking their judgments, seize only on those 
passages which justified, in their opinion, my continued confine- 
ment? Did they, with all their affection and all their attachment 
to me, seldom or never let that affection and that attachment have 
fair sway over their conduct and upon the operations of their 
minds, when reasoning and acting in my behalf? This is my sus- 
picion. I should think that my letters could never have been read 
by them: certainly they could not have been read with due atten- 
tion. 

Here again let me assert, that even the violence of my language, 
which was seized upon as evidence of my distrust of their affections 
continuing the same towards me, was often indulged in, actually 
with a view to wounding and exciting those affections to make 
some exertion on my behalf; because I found that there was no 
chance of success in addressing their reason: I thought they might 
do from passion and resentment of my condemnation of them, and 
apparently cruel rebuke, what their spell-bound judgments would 
not consent to; that they might risk, for the sake of proving that 



214 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

the stigma they supposed I cast upon them was undeserved what 
their own fears, and the whisperings of the doctors would not 
otherwise have allowed to them. So far was I from doubting their 
affections, that I relied upon them to the uttermost; confiding in 
them, and as far as my family were concerned, in them alone; and 
trusting that they would endure through all the expressions of my 
contempt and aversion, on account of their dealings with me, 

I also found it a relief to my mind, to be able to say that there 
was some excuse for my relations' conduct towards me; for that 
which I found most insufferable, was the sense or the idea that I 
was treated with complete injustice, and without any cause of of- 
fence. Here again I state my feelings, that others may benefit from 
my experience. I do not justify them. It appears to me, and it ap- 
peared to me even then singular, that the foresight of disappoint- 
ments and contradictions should not enable me to bear them with 
fortitude when they came; and that the consciousness of a good 
cause, and of a perfect heart, should not be a better defence against 
oppression, than the idea of having in some degree retaliated. But, 
without deciding the great question, I recollected that the scripture 
speaks of God himself as mad, at the rebellious conduct of his 
people; although he foresaw that rebellious conduct. I reflected 
therefore that I ought not to be surprised, but that had my fore- 
sight been perfect, I should have foreseen not only the sufferings 
I should be exposed to, but the feelings that they would excite 
in my bosom. 

I am far from pretending that I am more than a man or that 
I have any pretension to be a perfect man, in the regulation of my 
passions and of my desires; on the contrary, I despise myself. If I 
often cursed the hour in which I was born, if often bowed down 
with grief with pain of body, and pain of mind I blasphemed 
the very nature of God in my affliction, hating reason; not merely 
because reason was against me, but because I could see no reason 
for it. If I felt, at times, that the Almighty and man and the devil 
were against me, and that I struggled alone and hopeless, against 
the powers of goodness and of evil, and man their instrument 
if I was desperate enough to offer my soul to Satan, to escape 
from that horrible confinement and seclusion into which I had 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 215 

fallen, by my credulity, and the abuse of my faith in the gifts of 
inspiration, still less can I pretend to say, that there were not 
moments when I hated and devoted to destruction all those who 
were bound to have protected me, and through whose abandon- 
ment of me and cruel neglect, I had forfeited my self-respect, in 
falling out with my Creator and in rebelling against the desire to 
love his holy name. But these were moments, moments of conflict 
in privacy; and to these feelings I seldom gave vent, in my corre- 
spondence with my family. And whatever they were, they arose 
from my confinement, and the arbitrary and insolent manner I 
was dealt with, not from the disease that was pretended as a cause 
for that confinement. 

I have a further remark to make, that had it been in my power, 
I would have steadfastly declined altogether corresponding with 
my family. I protested repeatedly against being compelled to 
carry on my coirespondence with them, and desired that I might 
be allowed to communicate with my friends, in order that one of 
them might act as a mediator between us. I knew that I could not 
avoid being guilty of many inconsistencies, writing to them famil- 
iarly at one moment, in respect of our relationship and mutual af- 
fections, and with coldness and indignation at another, in respect 
of their conduct towards me, so contrary to such affections. I ex- 
pressly remonstrated against the unfairness of my being forced to 
write to them, because I knew that I could not avoid using strong 
language in declaring my resentment against them, and that that 
language would be produced as evidence against me. In like man- 
ner, and for the same reasons, I did not wish to see them. 



CHAPTER XXX 



HERE it may be useful to make an observation which regards 
lunatic patients generally. The doctors generally say that the 
presence of their friends is hurtful to them. I am informed this is 
often the case at the commencement of the disorder; and if the 
disease is connected with remorse of conscience, or with dread of 
ruin being brought upon the patient's family, nothing is more 
probable; for then the bewildered conscience finds the objects of 
its care and duties changed at times into tormentors. Thus in a 
splendid passage of one of the Greek plays, Orestes exclaims to 
his sister, "^-&eg ^u' owa TCDV SJJLCOV EQIVVUCDV."* Even without any 
ostensible cause, this may take place; because lunacy being the 
perversion of the understanding, it is possible that this perversion 
may take place in the apprehension of the objects of our affections. 
It may arise, not from any particular repulsion of the relations, 
but from a general repulsion of what is evil in mankind, or even 
of what is good; for the mind sometimes I hazard the conjecture 
repels what is beautiful in the creation, and endeavours to 
destroy all traces, and to refuse all impressions of it, touched with 
a remorse at its disobedience to the mild government of the Crea- 
tor: so it is written in Revelations, that the wicked will cry to be 
saved from the wrath of the Lamb. This arises, I have found, not 
from dislike to, or want of desire towards what is beautiful, but 
from the pain of body which accompanies the mental conflict on 
seeing it, which springs from a complication of feelings, desire, 

* The quotation is from Euripedes* Orestes, line 264. After a lucid interval, 
Orestes starts to rave, hallucinating the Furies. Electra throws her arms around 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 217 

regret, hopelessness, remorse I cannot at present define. Ingrati- 
tude, I suspect, is at the root of all. Sometimes the mind repels 
and dislikes that excellence which, without being beautiful, cor- 
rects the passions and self-will. Now whether there is manifested 
a repulsion of any particular excellence, or of evil, whatever con- 
tention of mind may arise thereupon, may be supposed in many 
instances, to be aggravated by the presence of relations, especially 
by such excellence or evil being recognised in them. For, however 
faint, the honest sense of duty remains which commands us to 
respect our parents and their connexions, and, unfortunately, in 
ill-regulated minds, the command to obey frightens and agitates 
and passion once ahead, scared and wounded by what violence 
it has already exercised exasperated with itself desperately and 
blindly dashes on. This too is often to be attributed to apathetic 
or disrespectful behaviour on the part of the persons who are 
being addressed. Now, whether a lunatic expresses his predilec- 
tions or his dislike, whether that dislike is of disrespectful conduct 
towards himself, or only of an evil disposition, discernible in the 
individuals addressing him, we must recollect that they are often 
unable to control their passions, and give way to exaggerated 
feelings. Their condemnation or their approbation may be just, 
and yet their language and manner exceed the bounds of tem- 
perance and decorum. The world, on meeting any one to whose 
character of countenance, or to whose demeanour they have a 
particular aversion, can control or disguise their feelings, their 
sense of fear, if not of duty and forbearance, their hypocrisy, if 
not their modesty and long-sufferance, check their utterance their 
action the expression of then: features; but the lunatic cannot 
perhaps do this, he has no sense, or little sense of prudence, or of 
duty, or a false or true idea of God's wrath may prevail, and he 
hazards at once the open and decided avowal of his disgust and 
abhorrence. If for this reason alone, how evident is the impro- 
priety of confiding them in any way to any man, or set of men so 
unreservedly as to enable them, if tempted, malignantly to punish 
them with impunity for a merited rebuke. But to the point on 
which I am writing, how evident also is it that they should not be 
exposed to express these violent and condemnatory emotions, dis- 
resDectfullv against the faint remonstrances and leadings of a 



2i8 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

better and a gentler feeling, towards those to whom they owe par- 
ticularly affection and regard. Nevertheless, let it be remembered, 
the separation of a lunatic from the objects of his natural duties 
and affection, can never be justified unless proof has been obtained 
that the disorder is connected with them or unless the relations 
should use too much indulgence, or in their exercise of kindness, 
and in their benevolent conduct forget self-respect, and the respect 
due to the misfortunes and character of the wretched being they 
have to deal with. For kind language and demeanour are often 
repulsed by the lunatic because they are offered in a manner 
which compromises the dignity of those who would show it, and 
that of him who is expected to receive it. BUT NO PLEA BUT NECES- 
SITY WILL EXCUSE THE ENTIRE ABANDONMENT OF A RELATION BY HIS 

FRIENDS; they cannot be excused for not going OFTEN to see and 
look after him although he may be unable to bear the sight of, or 
to express his gratitude to them; still more should they visit and 
stay with him when he is recovering. 

But when the lunatic doctors say that the presence of friends 
is hurtful to lunatic patients, they are not aware of one fact, at 
any rate they do not acknowledge it, that the violent emotions, 
and disturbance of spirits, which take place on their sudden meet- 
ing with them MAY arise from their being overcome by a sense of 
their relations' conduct towards them, in neglecting and abandon- 
ing them to the care and control of strangers, and from the treat- 
ment of the doctors themselves. The doctors naturally do not ac- 
knowledge this, for if they are acting from stupidity, their pride 
refuses correction, and will not admit the suspicion of being 
wrong; if they are acting with duplicity and hypocrisy, they neces- 
sarily preserve their character, and cannot in consistency confess 
that there is any error on their partwho can expect it of them? 
You cannot gather grapes from thorns. Nevertheless, it is true. 
There is, also, another truth the doctors are not aware of, which 
again is not surprising, for they are ignorant of every knowledge 
that ought to make them fit for the office they presumptuously or 
covetously undertake namely, that lunatics often do not know 
their own minds; and when their simplicity or imbecility has 
allowed them to be placed in circumstances for which they are not 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

prepared, nature struggles with or breaks through the films of 
stupidity and delusion, and entirely deranges them, or finds utter- 
ance in vehement, and uncontrolled, and unexpected language. 
Thus it is, that the doctors may be deceived and mistaken in their 
calculations. They talk to a lunatic of his mother, his brothers, 
and his sisters; they tutor him into the idea of his being right- 
minded when he hears of them with unmitigated pleasure and 
satisfaction; they neglect the man, and only think of the relation; 
his simplicity and imbecility adopts their views, and echoes their 
sentiments; his weakness yields and submits; they suppose now 
that he can endure the sight of his friends who are longing to see 
him, they write to say so; the sorrowing but unreflecting relations 
eagerly come down the afflicted object of their concern is ushered 
into their presence, and then ensues a dreadful scene of disappoint- 
ment, agitation, and perplexity. The outraged feelings of the 
patient either find vent in a sudden torrent of menace, of sarcasm, 
and of abuse, or, unconscious himself of the cause, he finds his self- 
possession give way, and he rambles away incoherently, mingling 
expressions of wrath, terror, pity, and affection, running upon all 
subjects disorderly, and dwelling upon none. 

Even if the patient were then able honestly and decorously to 
express his feelings in intelligible language, and with becoming 
dignity, his frame, shaken by violent emotion his broken speech 
his pathetic action, the vein of poetry that would run through his 
discourse, would cause him to run the risk of being condemned, 
and hurried out of the room as a confirmed and raving madman: 
much more his violence or his incoherence. The friends stare at 
the doctor, and say how is this? The doctor replies, he was mis- 
taken in the lunatic's being able to bear the sight of his family, 
and ascribes all to delusion. They are too willing to admit this 
apology, rather than incur self-condemnation, and, perhaps, admit 
their error, conscious, at the same time, of their helplessness, which, 
by the deficiency of their property, may be irretrievable. 

These reflections I made first at Dr. Fox's, in 1832, upon ob- 
serving the conduct of a tall, middle-aged, black-whiskered male 
patient, who was walking, at the time, a short way from me, in the 
kitchen-garden, when the young doctor or the servant told him 



220 PERCEVAL S NARRATIVE 

in a very coaxing manner, that he brought him a letter from his 
mother, or that his mother was coming to see him. The impro- 
priety of the style of approach to a grown-up man of about thirty 
years of age, and the imbecile, childish grin of delight with which 
the patient received the information struck me, the more particu- 
larly as I was at that time in a state of great indignation at the 
conduct of my mother and of my family towards me, and I knew 
that the doctor insinuated in consequence that I was, for that 
reason, not of sound mind. I perceived that the patient was not 
exercising self-respect. All the conduct of the same kind that had 
been pursued towards me rapidly passed over my mind, and I saw 
that the system of the doctor was, as he would express it, to win 
the attention, or touch the mind through the affections, but in 
reality to entangle the patient in a snare; to make him confess, by 
thinking only on his parents, that he was satisfied with his treat- 
ment, and so to get him quietly out of his wretched abode, and 
ensure his silence on the enormities practised in it, or his being 
disbelieved, and treated as a madman, being contradicted by his 
own words if ever he ventured to utter the resentment of a correct 
understanding. I saw that the doctor was the dupe of his own 
system. He was overlaying the sentiments of manhood and of 
justice, in the bosom of the person addressed, by undue appeals 
to his tenderness and to his filial duties; he had thrown the meshes 
of affection and of a superstitious sense of a child's obedience and 
respect to his parents, over the honour, the honesty, the fortitude, 
and the resignation of the man. I saw that if the individual in 
question was restored to society, he must re-enter it as a simpleton, 
but that, probably, the force of his character, and the voice of 
nature would tear asunder the false ties by which he was being 
bound down, and these not being under the controul of what men 
call reason, that he ran the chance of being confined for life as a 
madman. 

This may appear an extraordinary digression, but I introduce 
it to show, that many persons confined as lunatics are only so 
because they are not understood, and continue so because they do 
not understand themselves. Acknowledging their affections, and 
palavered over to obey their affections, they yield themselves up 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 221 

wholly to them; not discriminating, not listening to the inward 
monitor, which commands them to recollect what is due to their 
own rights, and to their own independence, and to their own 
honour. By this means their conduct is inconsistent; and when 
they are admitted into the presence of the relations who have 
neglected them, they become deranged and disordered through 
contending feelings. My case was different from this: the doctors 
would fain have made me, or have found me such a simpleton as 
one of these. But I knew my rights; and I did not know how to lie. 
There was no danger to be apprehended to my understanding 
from my meeting my relations. I understood my position too well: 
but knowing that position, and my correct feelings in consequence, 
knowing also that my family were blind to their real position in 
respect of me, and could not make allowance for these feelings; 
whilst I was not afraid to meet them, I expressed my reluctance 
and my indifference to do so, previous to their having made me 
any apology. This I felt due to myself, on account of the embar- 
rassing position in which I knew I should find myself, if they came 
to see me, full of their wonted cordiality, unable, through irreflec- 
tion, to believe that I could really be offended with them, and 
finding me stern as a rock, and cold to their addresses. I felt this 
also due to them, to prevent any indecorous language on my part, 
to which I might be provoked by the cruelties and the difficulties 
of my situation, and give way through the weakness of my health 
of body and of mind. For I knew my strength, and did not wish 
to try it beyond its power; and though, willing if necessary, to 
meet my relations (and to embrace them if they admitted their 
error), I could not do so, so long as they disrespected my com- 
plaints; and I thought it imprudent to allow, and unjust, that I 
should be tempted before them to abusive language, by their cal- 
lousness and unbelief, when I was certain such language would 
be converted into a justification for further confinement. This 
state of mind I often expressed in my letters to my family; and 
upon the same principles, I often deprecated and remonstrated 
against being compelled to correspond immediately with them. 
And I declare to God that I was of sound mind in this respect, for 
no man is fit to correspond with persons he is offended with, upon 



222 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

the topics of complaint, but through a third person, particularly 
not one so cruelly confined as I had been and still was. It was un- 
handsome and unjust in my family not to attend to these remon- 
strances. Of Dr. Newington's conduct I cannot speak with becom- 
ing dignity. He knew that he was sowing the seeds of discord 
between son and parent, brother and sister, and brother and 
brother, and yet he continued to degrade himself to accept office 
as the restorer of peace between us, on grounds incompatible with 
my religion, my honesty, and my honour, or to be as my gaoler 
for life if I did not accept them. Surely there is no villany greater 
than that of these men. Yet, "who hath believed our report?" to 
whom is the iniquity of this system revealed? 

Begotten in love to woman, and not to man, I have great diffi- 
culty in arranging my ideas, to confess that I felt excessive embar- 
rassment in commencing my first letters with my family and my 
friends, and to explain how this was occasioned. But I found it 
painful, not to know how I was looked upon; not to have any light 
from which to judge in what tone, or with what expectations, I 
might properly address them. This may have been a morbid 
feeling, but I was ashamed of the origin of my disorder, and felt 
that I deserved condemnation, and it was extremely painful. Sus- 
picion haunted me that my family had not abandoned me without 
a cause that I had not been treated in so cruel and abasing a 
manner, but from contempt; and my respect to them revolted 
from the idea that they had neglected me as they had done, to save 
themselves from the trouble of self-examination, and of inquiry 
and reflection as to the best manner of dealing with me: as well 
as from the perplexity they might be under in attempting to take 
care of me themselves. Besides, my habit of mind was one of self- 
accusation, in a great degree a diseased habit of mind, which has 
been increased by the severe mental conflict, and inward suspicion, 
and investigation of myself, occasioned by a long denial of justice 
to me. For it was difficult for me to be satisfied that I, recovering 
from lunacy, could be right, and my relations and those in au- 
thority over me entirely wrong. More especially when I reflected 
upon the character of my relations, and knew how they had loved 
me* Low-spirited originally, and now from illness, I lived self- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 223 

condemned, and self-despised, and conceived that others thought 
of me in like manner: I was encouraged in these thoughts by my 
circumstances, and by the ferocious conduct of the keepers. Could 
any people have subjected one whom they respected and valued 
to the brute force of such ruffians? Could any beings have deserted 
one whom they loved, to be tied up hand and foot, day after day, 
in such society? When, too, my judgment had been corrected, 
there still remained a doubt on my mind, whether a just God 
could have dealt with me so, or allowed me to be so dealt with, 
without himself despising me; for indeed letting alone my bodily 
injuries, I have been used mentally and morally very cruelly. I am 
afraid no man will give credence to my sufferings, for my character 
and my dispositions have been so marred and so changed, I have 
now so little resolution that I hardly know myself. Heu! quantum 
mutatus ab illo. Now, according to a man's character the gener- 
ality of men adopt their behaviour and think nothing wrong to 
those who shew no seriousness, no reflection, no sense of decency, 
no piety, no self-respect. But I was not such an one when I was 
placed under the sole charge of lunatic doctors, by the religion of 
my family and of my countrymen. But my experience has neces- 
sarily engendered levity and fitfulness. 

This entire ignorance of the opinion others might entertain 
of me became the more painful when I knew that the style of my 
letters might be weighed as a proof of my state of mind. So that, 
if I addressed others too confidently I might disgust them, as un- 
conscious of the discredit I had brought upon myself, and of my 
circumstances; if I was too lowly in my appeals to them, I might 
appear weak, unable to control my feelings, and of unsound judg- 
ment. But this uneasiness on my part was unnecessary. My letters 
to my friends never reached them I was cajoled, they never went 
further than Mr. Newington's house and my relations seemed to 
exercise as little reflection in their style and demeanour to me, as 
they had done in the selection of my treatment. Whilst outwardly 
manifesting nothing but pity, and commiseration, and hopes of 
my being again soon with them, and regret that my state only 
rendered it impossible; they took no pains to inquire whether that 
was true, and to give me a fair hearing before unprejudiced per- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

sons; they followed the steps the least likely to restore me to them, 
and such as rendered it impossible for me to be with them again 
upon an honourable footing; and, at length, I so despised them, 
that I grew reckless as to how or what I wrote to them, or what 
they might think of my writings. 

I cannot say what I feel at my correspondence having been 
always left subject to the inspection of my physician; I am aston- 
ished, I speak as a man, at the indelicacy of my family at their 
want of respect to my honour and to their own; I am astonished 
that I, recovering from derangement, should have been more sen- 
sible and reasonable in this respect than they were, who quenched 
sound feeling in obsequiousness. But I desire others to reflect how 
disgusting it is for lunatic doctors to challenge, and for relations 
to allow them this title. What! Mr. Newington to be the keeper 
of my conscience to be the meddler in secrets between my Maker 
and myself which I might feel compelled to divulge and yet only 
confide with propriety to a minister of religion, or to relations, or 
to friends! I obliged to confide my feelings and desires to a stranger 
feelings which it required even great delicacy to communicate 
properly to my nearest connexions! or to be compelled to hold 
my peace in doubt, mistrust, or difficulty! By what authority do 
these men exercise this power a power which even a clergyman, 
if he were a patient's guardian, would not be entitled to; on what 
grounds can they claim a confidence, which ties of kindred, or of 
friendship and respect, can alone confer? What is the result of 
their so doing?* That a patient cannot return to a really sound 

* I had reason bitterly to deplore this system of meddling with corre- 
spondence on a late melancholy occasion. Being compelled to submit to it, I 
remonstrated against it. The consequence of it was, that one of my cousin's 
letters to me, and one that I had accidentally sealed and forwarded, did not 
reach their destination; and two letters I afterwards wrote were detained and 
returned, for reasons, in my opinion, very inconsistent and contemptible, con- 
sidering the urgency of the occasion. Thus a delay of three weeks took place 
at a distance of fifteen miles; and not being able to come to a decision, from 
want of information, I was restrained from repeating a visit which, if made in 
time, might have strengthened and encouraged my relation to have still endured 
his confinement. On receiving, also, the last letter he wrote, my mind very 
much misgave me, and I was tempted to write back immediately, that I was 
determined to get him removed to another dwelling; but I feared no such 
letter would be delivered. I was to blame hi putting any trust, and in deferring 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 225 

state of mind; or else he must forego all useful communication by 
letter with his relations: since the very conditions these men force 
their patients to submit to, they can only be excusable in submit- 
ting to from insanity or dulness equal to their doctor's stupidity. 
These are like owls set to judge over the sanity of larks and night- 
ingales. These are like swine or sloths set to judge over the man- 
ners of greyhounds and fleet coursers. The reasons given for this 
interference are, that the patient may write something improper 
to his relations; but since highly important letters may be de- 
stroyed, who is to be on this plea the judge? and if he does, is it 
not equally improper for the doctor to see the writings? Therefore 
on this plea the letters should be burnt without reading. This is 
absolute prudery an affectation of delicacy, and of respect for the 
feelings, on the part of men who prove that they have little or 
none. Surely, as far as the patient is concerned, he should be 
saved from the apprehension of having exposed himself before a 
stranger. The second reason is, that the doctor may know the state 
of the patient's mind, and require some clue to his disorder; and 
it is of a piece with all their charlatanerie, to affect a great care 
where they have no business to meddle, and to take the very course 
to disturb the peace of their patient's mind under pretence of 
restoring it. 

In addressing my friends, I was under another difficulty, besides 
that of not knowing in what attitude I ought to approach them: 
I feared to let them know too much of my situation, lest, even if 
they were disposed to communicate with me, or to come and visit 
me, whilst under the charge of a doctor they might feel it too 
delicate a matter to interfere in, if they were at once informed of 
my dispute with my relations, and abandon me to my fate, without 
inquiry, except from those whose judgments were perverted. 

Part of a letter to Lady C [Carr], from Ticehurst. 

DEAR LADY C , 

I had determined not to remain here at all. But though noth- 
ing will administer true comfort to my mind, but consciousness of 
being no longer under control and observation, I am content to 
remain here until I am admitted to be of sound mind by Dr. New- 
ington, or till he at least can remove your anxieties for my personal 
safetv provided I have permission from Dr. Newington, through 



226 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

or without your consent, to proceed now to London, in order to 
take legal advice as to proceedings against the Drs. Fox, and to 
have the opinions of medical practitioners who are acquainted 
with my former state of mind, as to my actual or . 

Part of another letter to the same, not sent. 
MY DEAR MOTHER, 

Thou usedst not to leave thy carriage beasts to the uncontrolled 
care of thy servants; nor even thy cattle to that of thy gardener and 
thy cowherd: thou deliveredst up thy son, in heart spiritsoul 
and body, to strangers, and thou committedst him, even as other 
parents have also their children, the noble and the delicate o 
mankind, to the entire management and brute authority of hinds. 

Can I pardon Sp r? Can I pardon you? Even a sportsman 

keeps his racehorse with its kind tenderly, and the drayhorse with 
its kind; neither is a strange dog turned on a sudden into a kennel 
with other hounds. I, because I was unable to judge or act for 
mine own self because I was deprived through lunacy of power 
to articulate and by the hand of Almighty God of command over 
my spirits, even in private, was, and am still degraded to fellow- 
ship and company with the low the profligate the infidel and the 
profane. I, a gentleman! Childish imbecility has been made the 
excuse for treating me with indignity, contempt, and oppression; 
and as though I was devoid of all feeling, I have been compelled 
to witness the mental and bodily agonies of those whom I could 
not relieve. Ay I have seen them strangled, shaken, and beaten 
by ruffians, whom, if it had pleased Almighty God that I should 
have had at that time half the reason and determination that I 
have now as Moses slew the Egyptian I would have prayed for 
courage and strength to cast them with violence on the stones, to 
rise up again no more: except that prudence restrains me, because 
I cannot fly like him from the wrath of man, nor escape perpetual 
imprisonment. I say, I was given over in weakness, in helplessness, 
and in nervousness, to be harrowed by the sight of a menial at- 
tendant throttling a poor young lunatic gentleman till his face 
was bloated with blood, and his eyes started from their sockets; 
whilst a humane butcher spares even the cattle appointed for the 
knife, the sight of their fellow creatures' agonies. 

Again, I repeat, can I pardon you and my sisters my elder 
brother no! 

I had my head thrown back against a wall with such force as 
made me imagine my skull was split cross-wise. A force which no 
man would have dared to use to one who could apply to the law 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 227 

for protection against assault with intent to stun or render lifeless, 
with reasonable hope of being relieved: and such as I should have 
feared of making use of towards a sane man, for fear of deranging 
his reason. Such is the treatment the son of a noble family is sub- 
jected to in a lunatic asylum. These are the hands his mother's 
affection delivers his soul and person into. You plead example, 
and call that an excuse. I mentioned 's conduct as an in- 
stance of similar cruelty, negligence, selfishness, and oppression; 
but neither are the cases parallel, for he knew the state of his 
daughter's mind by experience, and had I believe attempted to 
heal and reclaim her. Thou wast content to banish me from town 

upon hearsay; and abhorredst the idea of Sp r bringing me up 

to Ealing, and lately to town: and prevailedst on him not to write 
to me those communications which alone could relieve my heart, 
and bring any comfort to my love. My misery might have been 
alleviated by your affectionate compassion, indulgence, and con- 
siderationand by the solicitude of my sisters, and my confidence 

in them in their attachment, secrecy, and deliberation. C 

being a lunatic, could not, I conceive, endure her mother's pre- 
ciseness and scrutiny, nor perhaps her father's severe authority. 

I am not now surprised at accounts I have heard, if I remember 
correctly, of lunatics living at variance with their relations and 
friends. Can I return to my mother can any Christian gentleman 
return to his relations after they have proved by their actions, 
their no less hatred for their son's spiritual glory, than contempt 
for his personal comfort, and neglect of his bodily welfare? con- 
signing him from their immediate superintendence to the care of, 
and control of, ay, intercourse, ay, continual intrusion and com- 
pany, of menials. I say, can I associate with my mother after this? 
If I value the blood that was poured forth for my soul's salvation, 
can I have sympathy with any of them? unless you all acknowl- 
edge to me personally, your deep sense of shame at the enormous 
guilt you have incurred by such reckless indifference, I cannot. 
My affection must yield to higher considerations. Nay, the good 
of her own soul, my duty as faithful witness of awful truths, pre- 
vents it; and I conceive where a lunatic has not those or better 
motives, a sense of his own natural dignity, and the duties he owes 
to his Creator, to assert his claim to respect, as any authority in 
society, and 

God forgive thee, my dear mother, God forgive thee; even the 
share of guilt thou must have had in those awful expressions of 
my wrath and indignation, which were torn out of my heart by 
the cruelty of my situation, which I pray you to forgive me for as 
disrespectful to you, to your infirmities of age, and to your au- 



228 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

thority; though in doing so, I caution you not to mock at yourself 
as doubting their sincerity (they are fearfully true), or that they 
are fully justified by my torture. The Lord commanded me to 
write many of them; most of them I saw written on the paper, in 
faith, for me to copy, and the Holy Spirit, in whom I have hoped 
and trusted . 

In a paper written about this time, I find the following reflec- 
tions on the illness of my cousin , above alluded to: 

I used to think of as older than me as one to whom I 

could be of no serviceof whose disease I knew nothingof whose 
disposition I knew or remembered very little (query cared to re- 
member?) of whose mental affliction I knew nothing. 

I had want of hope to be of service to any lunatic. I said to 
myself, disease is beyond my power to cure or heal; and I did not 

know how far was affected by disease, or ill-health. I did not 

think, I believe, of delusion; or, if I did, conceived, from ridiculous 
stories and exaggerations, that they were incurable but by accident. 

I had fear of, or respect for, or reverence towards, my uncle. 
I knew the family and he had wished to conceal it from me alto- 
gether; therefore I suspected ill-will towards any inquirer, or 
feared to wound his feelings. 

Delicacy also prevented me. I knew some part of the disorder- 
apathy, and deadness to shame, or contumely . . . might be one. 
I feared . . . and brokenheartedness about some misdemeanor, 
which her friends might not trust to me. 

But when I came to a right state of mind, and sound state of 
feeling, and wished to be of use, and to use reason with myself 
how to be so, I conceived her delusions might be healed by remon- 
strance and reason, and attention to the word of the lunatic, and 
belief of his word, and of the reality of the delusion to him; and 
by not calling it imagination. 

[Reply from mother^ 

Baling, March 5th, 1832. 

DEAREST JOHN, 

Your letters make me quite miserable. It is most painful to me 
to be obliged to refuse you what you so earnestly desire, and which 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 229 

yet it is my duty to you not to grant. You are not in a fit state to 
be allowed to come to London. Your wish of prosecuting Dr. Fox 
for his conduct to you is a sufficient proof of it if there was no 
other* Believe me, my dear child, I can have no wish to detain 
you an instant longer in your present situation than is necessary 
for your recovery. It will be our greatest happiness to have you 
well and able to come amongst us again: and you will then be the 
first to acknowledge what erroneous views your illness has made 
you take of our conduct to you. You are evidently so much im- 
proved lately, that if you can but make up your mind to remain 
quietly in your present situation, and dismiss as much as possible 
all irritating subjects, I cannot but hope, by the blessing of God, 
that we shall have you restored to us in a few months' time. But 
at present, as it is evident that all I can say in reply to your letters 
only tends to irritate you the more, I must decline after this making 
any answer to any letters of reproach that you may address me, 
and I beg that you will not write to me any more till you feel more 
kindly disposed to me. 

I am afraid from what you say, that I must have missed a letter, 
in which you asked me to send you something, &c., Sec. 

The remainder of the letter was on family topics. 

Part of a letter begun in answer to the above. 
MY DEAR MOTHER, 

In your letter to me, you say, that I am not in a fit state to be 
allowed to come up to London; "your wish of prosecuting Dr. Fox 
for his conduct to you is a sufficient proof of it, if there was no 
other." This makes me hope that you are acting under a mistaken 
view of my case altogether, and indeed no wonder. If you will 
refer to my letters you will see that I do not wish to come up to 
town to prosecute Dr. Fox: it makes me fear that you have not 

received a letter which I wrote to F , nor read my other letters 

with attention. In my letter to F , I expressly 

But the longer I dwelt on the above letter of my mother to me, 
her summary decision that my desire to prosecute Dr. Fox was a 
proof of continued insanity; her assuming that I had no cause for 
irritation, and declining to write to me any more until I wrote 
without irritation; her presuming that my views of her conduct 
were erroneous when I recollected all I had already gone through, 
from her neglect, when I looked upon the horrible consequences 



230 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

of such a resolution of her minda long, perhaps a perpetual im- 
prisonmentor my being obliged to deny the truth, and to lie 
against my conscience, I could not keep patience her expressions 
of sorrow for my situation, or of a desire to see me restored to a 
sound mind, &c., &c., came to my understanding as the keenest 
and cruellest mockery though I willingly believed she did not 
know whose instrument she was in so writing and I reflected even 
on her addressing me as her dear child, instead of her dear son; 
considering it a proof that she did not respect my character. I then 
wrote in the following style if not the following letter verbatim. 
Soon after this, feeling that I could not command my feelings re- 
spectfully towards her I declined corresponding with my mother 
directly, and as I could not procure the mediation of any friend, 
I addressed my sisters: 

March 6 or 7, 1832. 
LADY C [CARR], 

I received your letter this afternoon; it is dated March 5, 
Ealing. I will answer it seriatim. In the first place, my letters 
must make you miserable, and in the second place, I am glad of it, 
and of your confession because either you are lunatic and made 
miserable by nonsense, or they carry weight, argument, and terror 
with them. 

Time will show whether or not I am a lunatic in wishing to 
prosecute Dr. Fox. I will not waste argument with you on this 
subject. You have succeeded in preventing me coming to London; 
whether or not now it would be of use to my lawsuit to come, I 
do not know; I have been delayed now come Friday four weeks 
since I left Dr. Fox's; and four weeks and three days since that 
treatment was left off for which I intend to prosecute Dr. Fox; of 
course, therefore, the attestation of my medical friends, to my state 
of health and of mind, such as it then was, can no longer be so 
valuable as it was. 

How far the law may require such attestation I do not know; 
but if I fail in my lawsuit through want of it, I shall certainly 
make the punishment of the law fall upon you, or Sp r, or 
Dr. Newington, whichsoever it may concern, if I can: and not only 
so, but even if I succeed in my prosecution of Dr. Fox, I will en- 
deavour to make you sensible all three of you, in the legal way 
that I am not to be mocked at; unless I receive an apology. 

I AM a lunatic. But for that very reason I will make you wince 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 231 

at daring to oppose me in a legal, reasonable, natural, and con- 
sistent course to obtain lawful and just ends. You do not respect 
my disease. This I ought to expect from you, but you add oppres- 
sion and injustice to one whose illness makes him prone to sus- 
picion: whose illness! no but whose sense of the unnatural be- 
haviour of his family, has at last made him prone to suspect evil 
even in good. 

Since I have been a lunatic, I have not dared to make an appeal 
to my Maker in prayer, for fear of mocking; four times I have 
endeavoured to do so, and one of them is for your death by the 
cholera morbus; or for your more confirmed lunacy. Any tidings 
by which I may hear of the authority you abuse, being conveyed 
even to S r's [Spencer's] indolent, self-sufficient, and supersti- 
tious hands, I may add, hypocritical, will delight me; but I revoke 
my prayer, for I can wait for an opportunity with patience, in 
hopes of a bitterer revenge, and of making you taste more deeply 
what it is to have mocked at the voice of reason and the word of 
life in a lunatic and contemned son. In fear you should wrest 
these words to my temporal hurt, I explain them again, by repeat- 
ing, that I will seek no means of revenge but what the law makes 
secure or lawful, and human nature certain. 

I will teach you one day or another, if God spares you or me, 
to know that it was your duty to have attended to my first demand 
for a private lodging; and that ever since I made it, you have 
known no other duty in respect of me, except to mourn over your 
whole conduct towards me in placing and leaving me in a lunatic 
asylum. 

Gray hairs are an honour if found in the way of righteousness. 
I would respect your age if I could but I cannot and yet I hope 
I do in some sort. 

As far as any thing in my disease hinders me from coming 
amongst you; you all know that nothing at all has ever prevented 
that, but your own unwillingness to bear that load which you, to 
whom it was natural to endure it, cast-off to be borne by strangers: 
nothing, I say, has prevented it but that, from the commencement 
of my illness; and now, you know also, all, that nothing in me 
prevents it but your own unwillingness to acknowledge your own 
brutal hypocrisies and my reasonableness. You fear the word of 
God in me "Dear Mother" too much, I know, to bear my person 
in a sound state of mind. 

I shall probably still endeavour, if I can, during the next fort- 
night, to obtain by law what you refuse leave to go to town for 
legal and surgical purposes though, as I have said, I fear that my 
legal object is defeated by the obstacles which you have thrown 



232 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

in my way, besides others. If it is, I shall then wait, in the patient 
hope of future satisfaction, till I either obtain my release through 

the condescension of Betty Newington and Dame ,* and 

then avail myself of their own sagacity and sense of duty for their 
brilliant manifestation before the legal and public tribunals of 
my country, as a pair of the wisest old women breathing; or, till 
I have sufficient courage to appeal to the law for my final emanci- 
pation: but enough; I am losing self-possession. 

As far as I can see I mean, if I do not succeed in the course 
I am pursuing, in arousing some of spiritual or other friends to a 
sense of their duty to me; I shall probably be compelled to go to 

Ealing, or to Sp r's house. If so, I must endure it patiently, 

till the wisdom of the age be satisfied at last that I have determinate 
principles of thought and action. I hope you understand my 
words, but I fear not. But I can't help that, you know; it is your 
own fault. 

Reflections written about the same time. 

Because I became a lunatic, the persons around me threw aside 
consideration, all gentlemanly, all humane feelings. I was not 
treated with common civility or humanity, or common equity. 

God b 1 their souls. 

God d n their eyes. 

God confound then- judgments, for ever and ever. 

I was not considered to have the wants and common feelings 
of a brute beast no or to need the necessary sustenance even, or 
exercise, or use of my bodily limbs; neither was I washed or 
cleaned, or allowed to dress myself, or dressed by others. 

Neither have I since been treated as I deserved. I have been 
treated with inhumanity, want of consideration, misplaced severity 
and laxity. 

For the inhuman, the unchristian, the barbarous, the disgust- 
ing, the degrading treatment which I have seen English gentlemen 
endure in that asylum, and which I have endured in my own per- 
son, would have made me melancholy. 

I publish this fragment as a specimen of the exasperation pro- 

* I do not think it right to publish this language without an apology. 
May God pardon those whose cruel treatment and neglect exasperated me to 
make use of it, and him who indulged in it. I must observe, the letters I sent 
were very much altered from these foul copies. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 233 

duced by my treatment. I have a few other fragments as passionate, 
but I need not shock my readers unnecessarily. I wrote them down 
to preserve them as memoranda of my state of mind. I am confi- 
dent that no honest man will pretend, as the doctors do, that pas- 
sion and violence as a justification for confinement, which were 
produced by confinement and contradiction. 

Part of a Letter from my youngest Brother. 

Tuesday, March, 1832. 
MY DEAREST BROTHER, 

I must apologise to you for not having answered your letter 
yesterday; I got it on Sunday afternoon, but I was so much engaged, 
fee., &c., 8cc. 

I was very much pleased at receiving your letter, though I was 
grieved to think you should have thought that we had acted un- 
kindly to you. You little know, my dear John, how much we 
have all been afflicted at your dreadful calamity, and though the 
measures taken by your family may not appear the best, and what 
you would have wished, still I think that the event has proved, 
that they were not altogether to be condemned, as, with the bless- 
ing of God, you have, under them advanced most considerably to 
your recovery:* which, I am sure, it is the earnest prayer of all of 
us, may be speedily accomplished. 

If you knew the anxiety of my mother and my sisters, as well 

as of Sp r [Spencer] and the rest, about you, you would not 

accuse any of them of apathy and want of compassion; and I must 
say, that, as far as I am able to judge, I do not see that there is any 
just ground for your accusations. 

I remember hearing at the time, that the presence of relations 
was of all things to be avoided, as being very prejudicial to the 
recovery of a person in your state, and the same objection was 
offered to letter-writing; and that opinion coming from persons 
skilled in the care and remedies necessary for your malady, it 
would have been wrong, I think, you must allow, to have acted 
against it. I just offer these remarks in great haste, to show you 

* This passage whilst it was a proof of the simplicity of my family, and of 
their innocence in one sense, in another sense proved to me the indolence of 
their minds in reasoning concerning me. They took the first thought that came 
to them without examination; it was very difficult for me to bear and to unravel 
their sophisms. The spirit of the passage is false, not the letter. I did recover 
under Dr. Fox's management, but it was through the mercy of God and a 
strong constitution, in spite of their barbarities. 



234 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

that, under these circumstances, I, for one, never felt it necessary 
or proper to go to see you or to write, which latter I most likely 

should have otherwise frequently done; and knowing that Sp 

went down occasionally and as often as was conceived good for you, 
to see that you were comfortable, &c., which I always then under- 
stood you were, I did not feel the same anxiety of looking after you 
myself which I otherwise should have done. You have put a 
number of questions to me, which if you think necessary after this, 
I will answer; but I hope you will see from what I have said, that 
though you were placed with Dr. Fox, you were still anxiously 
regarded and felt for by all of us. 

I cannot recollect any place like that you describe about Slut.* 
I have no more time, so must conclude, with best love from Be- 
atrice, and hoping and praying that you will continue recovering 
till you are quite restored, which God grant. 

Believe me, dearest John, 
Your affectionate Brother, 

E. PERCEVAL 

Extract from another letter from the same, dated March 23. 

In answer to your letter I received the other day, the first time 
I received the sad news from Ealing of your great calamity was at 
Birmingham, and I was a little prepared for it, having been told 
by my sisters that they anticipated something of the kind; and I 
attributed it to your excitement of mind on religion, and I was 
not acquainted till afterwards, when I was in London, that you 

had been ill in Dublin before, which Sp r [Spencer] gave as 

the immediate cause. I then also heard that Sp r had heard of 

Dr. Fox's establishment, which was strongly recommended; and at 
the same time heard that those asylums were reckoned more favour- 
able to cures than private ones: and I trust, my dear John, that it 
will prove so in your case. I never thought of proposing your re- 
moval to a place near Nottingham, as I never for a moment sup- 
posed you could be under better care; and the moment I heard 
from Ealing that through your letters you complained greatly of 
the treatment you received, I at once said that you should be re- 
moved, as I conceived anything that would fret or give excitement 

* My brother had lost a favourite terrier bitch, named Slut, and I took a 
great deal of interest in his loss. Whilst thinking of his loss I saw two or three 
visions as of inns or turnpike-gates, at which I was made to understand he 
might have lost her, or might find her. I wrote to my brother to ascertain if 
there was any truth in these visions. His answer helped to cure me of my 
delusion. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 235 

to a person in your unhappy state must be injurious. Jf 1 continue 
writing I shall lose two days' post, so must conclude, my dearest 
brother, hoping soon that it will be in my power to see you, which 
I shall certainly take an early opportunity of doing, if I hear from 
you that you wish it, and I can get leave to go down to you. May 
God bless you with speedy recovery, and that you may be once 
more able to join us, is the sincere prayer of your very affectionate 
brother 



Of all the letters I received, these showed the best feeling. Still 
I thought they were not conceived as they ought to have been, I 
think I did not express any wish for my brother to come and see 
me; but I let him know that I considered it his duty to come and 
look after me; that if he did not consider it his duty of himself to 
come and look after a lunatic brother who needed protection, and 
to have his treatment by strangers superintended, I could not 
wish to see him as far as I was concerned, though to see him well 
and happy would give me pleasure. There was nothing at this 
time to prevent me joining my family, but their not acknowledg- 
ing that they had done wrong; so that I might live honourably 
with them, and honestly. 

About this time I wrote certain questions in a letter to my 
mother, which were unattended to; this and the delay of several 
of my letters, by neglect, for about a fortnight, caused me much 
impatience and anxiety. I subsequently addressed the same ques- 
tions to my second sister, who replied to me as follows: 

March 6. 

MY DEAR JOHN, 
Your letter to me came by the evening post on Saturday, under 

the same cover with the one to F about Nixon (the Cheshire 

prophet). I could not begin to answer it on Saturday evening, be- 
cause Lady N was with us, and I was obliged to put it off till 

to-day. And first I must assure you that my not writing to you be- 
fore did not proceed from either indolence or apathy; but it was 
thought* better for you to have but few correspondents, as writing 
seemed to agitate and excite youjf so mamma decided on being 

* Without reason. 

f This conclusion was adopted without inquiry or judgment, as to the 
nature of the writing and the cause of excitement. 



236 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

your sole correspondent from this house, in which decision, as in 
every other that she has made concerning you, she was guided only 
by an anxious wish to do what was best for you.* I gave her your 
message about answering her letter when you had time. [Here 
follow notices of several articles I had desired to have sent to me 
amongst others the dressing case, by the refusal to send which, I 
ascertained that my family apprehended I might be guilty of self- 
murder. It was partly with a view to ascertain this awful truth 
that I sent for it. My family had no just grounds for such a sus- 
picion.] I now come to those questions to which you desire to have 
positive and plain answers. First, as to the private sitting-room 
at Dr. Fox's. There was no stipulation made for one originally; 

but Sp r [Spencer] says, that his impression was that you would 

have the use of your bed-room for that purpose and D says 

that from the appearance of the room he should have judged that 
it had been fitted up and furnished with that intention/}- At the 

same time I should say that Dr. Fox expressly told S , an 

opinion which I know is not only his, that mixing^ with other 
patients was very beneficial; so of course, mamma's knowledge that 
you did so would not have occasioned any remonstrance on her 
part, as long as you expressed no dissatisfaction on your part with 
the arrangements; in fact it was no subject of discussion between 
them till your letters complaining of it arrived about Christmas. 
She then went to Dr. Fox to beg that you might have a private 
sitting-room if he saw no objection to it, and also, as she I believe 

* She appeared to herself only to be so guided. 

f Can any one believe that a gentleman and my brother is truly a gentle- 
manwould so treat a gentleman grown up, and of the habits of society and 
of conduct such as were mine, in so absurd and puerile and degrading a 
manner? Can any one believe that the room thus spoken of, was a room with 
bare white-washed walls and scanty bed-room furniturel Yet how many do 
the same? 

J I cannot understand, nor do I believe this. I have found the occasional 
sight of a lunatic patient's errors have corrected me, or set me on my guard 
against similar ones: but if "mixing" be advantageous, surely the doctor and 
my friends should have distinguished between that and constant communication 
and society. 

$ Therefore, as long as I was stupid enough to continue in unbecoming and 
unhealthy circumstances, for aught those guardians of mine, who were of sound 
mind, reflected about it, I might have been allowed to continue. But when I 
began to exercise sound judgment, that is, when I needed their care no longer, 
I with difficulty obtained a hearing to my complaints. My mother's first letter 
to me informed me that Dr. Fox refused me even a private sitting-room, and 
that she must be guided by his judgment. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 237 

explained to me some time ago, took other advice as to the ex- 
pediency of removing you from Dr. Fox's establishment. This 
answer to your first question, answers also your second as far as 
relates to her knowledge of your being all the year exposed to the 
company of lunatics. But you say, a set of vulgar lunatics and 

servants. Now with respect to the lunatics Sp r [Spencer] 

was told by Dr. Fox that they were classed in three sets according to 
their rank, and that the different classes though they mixed among 
themselves, which, as I said before, was considered beneficial, did 
not mix with one another excepting sometimes one of the second 
class, if a good player, joining with the gentlemen in games of 
skillbowls, billiards, &c. &c. Of course the first-class accommoda- 
tion was engaged for you but it was never said that that class did 
not admit persons of lower rank than grandsons of Earls or mem- 
bers of noble families in any degree, or even than the tlite of the 
gentry. And as you know that in society you are liable to meet 
people by no means your equals in rank, and still less, perhaps, in 
cultivation and refinement of mind, whom yet you could have no 
possible right to object to meeting and receiving as gentlemen, so 
of course that distinction between the degrees of gentility and of 
refinement could still less be made in an establishment like Dr. 
Fox's, where the line can only be drawn between the higher, the 
lower, and the middle classes, and he could not refuse to admit as 
gentlemen, those whose friends were willing to pay for the accom- 
modation of gentlemen; though at the same time the difference 
between individuals, especially in refinement of mind and of feel- 
ings, must be still more perceptible under their unfortunate cir- 
cumstances than in the ordinary intercourse of society. Then with 
respect to the servants, their attendance of course* was indispens- 

* I observed my family whenever they asserted a proposition against me 
which was not true in letter or in spirit, always introduced it with the words 
"of course?' this style of speech I know to be a proof of want of reflection; and 
I recommend all those who reason with such phrases to examine the sentences 
to which they attach them. I replied to this letter, sentence by sentence, but 
all in vain, as follows: The attendance of Dr. Fox's servants was indispensable, 
but it was not "of course" indispensable that I should have had their society all 
day, if I had been placed in proper circumstances: the servants were neces- 
sarily vulgar, but it was not "of course" that they should have been so low and 
vulgar as they were, even if no gentleman could have been prevailed on to 
accept the situation. Being subjected to the regime of Dr. Fox's first-class 
patients, "of course" I was treated like them, but it did not follow, that "of 
course" I was to be contented with the wisdom of those who subjected me to 
that regime, without inquiry, and kind consideration of my particular disposi- 
tion and habits. Being in the world, I did mix "of course" with many men of 



038 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

able, and It was equally of course that they must be vulgar. Your 
next question is marked "two," respecting an operation performed 
on you by Dr. Fox's orders; whether it was with or without her 
sanction, with or without her knowledge? previous or subsequent 
to the performance of it? also what cause was assigned for it by 
Dr. Fox? This question my mother answered in one of her letters 

to you; but F says it had been forgotten, and the answer was 

inserted in a little corner of the letter, where it may have escaped 
your notice. Mamma never heard of any operation from Dr. Fox, 
except once bleeding from the temporal artery when you were 

considered to be in a state of plethora, of which by the way Sp r, 

when he had visited you in the spring, mentioned that you had the 
appearance a more than usual redness and fulness about the 
face. Mamma did not hear of the operation from Dr. Fox till after 
it had been performed, and was then told by him, that though 
more painful than bleeding from the arm, you had borne it pa- 
tiently, and that it had so beneficial an effect at the time as to be 
followed by a lucid interval, in which you expressed a strong hope 

of your recovery.* We afterwards heard from D when he had 

seen you in the autumn, of an operation which had been performed 
on your ear, and which was rendered necessary by blows, which you 
had given yourself in chapel. This second operation I think you 
alluded to in one of your letters to mamma after Christmas, as 
you mentioned one which had been rendered necessary by blows 
received. To this day mamma has not heard of any other operation 

uncongenial habits and education; but there is a wide difference between the 
occasional intercourse and interchange of respects and civilities with such 
gentlemen, when duty or unity of pursuits, or feelings of gratitude, bring us 
together, and the being huddled with them in one prison for fourteen months, 
without distinction, or where distinction in one's favour is painful; and it did 
not follow "of course," that because I might be thrown during a voyage into 
the heterogeneous society of a steamer's cabin, that I was to submit to such 
society, as my drawing-room and dinner companions for a whole year, without 
just complaint. 

* The conduct of Dr. Fox in proceeding to this operation without my 
mother's approval was very improper. If, too, I had attempted resistance, as I 
was tempted to do it, it might have been highly dangerous. I feel much 
offended at the separation of the temporal artery, but my objections would 
be treated as prejudices. I recollect on one occasion after an operation, saying 
quietly, that I hoped I should recover, but with no distinct idea of what I 
meant; on the contrary, I leant my head on this occasion in the bosom of my 
servant, calling him my saviour, I cannot help thinking this to be a very unfit 
operation to be performed on lunatic patients: as the operations of the mind 
depend upon the regulations of the breathings and of the pulses, and on the 
wholesome flow o the blood through the system, which must be for a time 
till nature has re-formed a channel* 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 239 

whatever having been performed on you, either from Dr. Fox or 
from any one else. 

[The rest of this letter was on many family matters.] 

I find the following fragments of letters I wrote about this time, 
or perhaps later. I retained these sheets because I did not think 
them of a proper nature to send to my sister. 

[Part of letter to sister, F.] 

These are some of the principal injuries I received, and I 
cannot wonder at any inhumanity which might occur in that 
asylum, when the very basis of the treatment consists in the very 
cruellest and blackest cruelty which can be adopted towards hu- 
man nature, whilst it is forced upon the objects as solicitude and 
anxiety for their lives and their eternal welfare. God knows, as I 
lift my hand and my eyes now to Heaven, I would rather have 
perished with your tender leave, by my own hands, by cutting my 
throat, by hanging, by drowning in any way than have gone 
through the fearful ordeal; which, whilst it exposed my body to 
insult and injury, and my person to degradation, hardened my 
heart, and ruined my soul. I know no other possible excuse for 
confining me in a public lunatic asylum, but fear for my own per- 
sonal safety, or for that of some other. God knows I never at- 
tempted to do myself any injury, but under the fullest impression 
that it was for the benefit of my soul, and in expectation of being 
raised to life again, if I should accidentally happen to kill myself. 
Was then the care of my soul or body your object in selling me to 
strangers of no worth, and of whom you knew nothing. My body 
as well as my health has received injuries from neglect and violence, 
and mistreatment, of which the effects are still felt by me, are out- 
wardly visible, and are preying upon my frame; but enough I can- 
not write for very indignation. 

Here, too, what am I doing? Whilst my brothers are living 
with their wives in town, I have not for a year and two months 
seen a woman's face with whom I could converse freely. If my 
brothers choose to wear the mask of Christianity in town with their 
wives, whilst they have treated me as they have done let them. 
But then let them, whilst praying, I suppose, with their wives at 
home, remember that very word of life they prate so wonderfully 
about; which at the beginning declares that man was not made to 
be alone; and not expect me to endure unjust imprisonment with 
patience and let me tell them that excommunicated from Chris- 
tian society, and from Christian consolation and advice, I have 
human passions and human feelings; and let me tell my family 



240 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

too, that if they in their compassion for my soul, have thought fit 
to banish me from their bosoms, and to prescribe to me retirement, 
under pretence of management, I consider it much like preserving 
lobsters alive to put them into boiling water; and with my mother's 
kind leave, I would rather take care of my soul and body my own 
way, in obedience as far as I can to the light which the word of life 
throws upon the path which is conducive to the well-being of my 
life (which you all seem to have made wondrous light of indeed); 
and as I am neither enabled or willing to obey the precepts of St. 
Paul, or St. Peter, St. James, or St. Jude, for the sake of the branch! 
I will obtain that society by money which has been refused to 
bloodl if so be that she will be so kind as to write to Dr. Newington 
to let me go about my own business. If she does not, God knows 
if I can wait in patience; but if I can I will but in hopes of other 
things than you all expect for. 

I am no madman now, though I may be a fool for writing so 
freely. If I am no Christian, you may, as I said before, thank your- 
selves, whilst I laugh at you, and ask after your progress in Divine 
grace! Thank God, I know now a little who is who? and what is 
what. 

Farewell poor F , God grant you and all good sense; and 

preserve me in a good understanding, which having been restored 
to me I hope not to throw lightly away. Give my love to my 
mother and sisters, and believe me 

Your truly affectionate brother, 

JOHN. 

I send you enclosed the flower but I believe you know it. I 
wish I was a good botanist. 

Part of another letter to my family* full of remonstrances. 

"What prevented me from enduring HERE what I endured at 
Brisslington? Only that, thanks be to God! I was not in the state 
you supposed me to be in. Thanks be to GodI I was then in the 
same capable state of protecting myself as I am now! though not 
so strong, and able to make myself feared and respected by the 
servants and manager of this asylum. Had it not been for this I 
should not probably have escaped from Bristol usage here, which 
I have seen myself employed to another (elderly) gentleman, and 
know by the handwriting of another lunatic gentleman that he has 
either endured or witnessed. 

What thanks then do I owe to you? or where are your proofs 
of anxiety and kindness? None, and no where. I demanded a 
private lodging, and a servant of my own choosing? You go to the 
expense of 300 guineas for another lunatic asylum, and leave me 
to have any rough ostler Dr. Newington chooses to put about me. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 241 

I told you I was able to take care of myself what do you do? 
You show my letters to Dr. this, that, and t'other, in London, who 
know nothing of me or you. 

What did you reply to Spencer, who originally wished me to 
have been brought to Ealing? That you would not hear of it, it 
was quite out of the question. 

Was it not your duty then to have seen in what state I was, your 
ownself. It was. 

Was it kind to refuse it? No, it was not. 

Was it not Sp r's [Spencer's] duty to have travelled with me 

by easy stages up to town, and to place me in your neighbourhood? 
It was. 

Was it not your duty in December to have sent down Sp r 

[Spencer] or D [Dudley] to me, and for me, to bring me to 

town, that you might see yourself in what state I was? It was. 

Has it not been your study to do so all along, since my dispute 
with you? Yes, it was, but not altogether. Because why? Because 
I have shewn you that I have great indignation against you all, for 
your conduct towards me; and you might reasonably think it in- 
delicate to force me into your presence, or perhaps dangerous to 
my feelings. 

What, however, is my demand now? Not to return to my 
family, for I say the truth, that I hardly care a curse if I never see 

the sight of you any more, excepting E [Ernest] and poor 

F [Frederick]/ but I wish for a private lodgingand, so long 

as you choose to pretend that I need confinement confinement 
IN PRIVATE. 

And what is your duty now? To desire E to obtain 

leave of absence, or to make F call upon me to travel up to 

town, to be reconciled with you all, if you will confess yourselves 
sinners against my saviour; who desired me at Dr. Fox's to think 
of you; and to command your cleaning out the garden drains,* for 
your own safety and security and to suggest schemes for improv- 
ing your idea of a crane at the lodge gate, to prevent infection. Of 
whose kindness and goodness you took no account, nor did you re- 
lieve me by one prayer or one note of thanks-giving, in reply to 
him as the author of my care, but only to me; neither did you try 
from thence to draw out the cause and motives of my delusions, in 
order to heal me if possible. But you left me, a prophet of the 
Lord, bound by his affliction, amongst blaspheming and infidel 
lunatics. 

* This alludes to imaginations I had at Dr. Fox's respecting preserving 
my family from the cholera morbus, on which I thought earnestly, and in which 
I still believed as a species of inspiration at this time. 



CHAPTER XXXI 



ACCOUNT OF ESCAPE FROM MR. C. NEWINGTON'S MADHOUSE, 
AND REASONS, &C. 

Copied verbatim from a manuscript written at Ticehurst, soon 
after the occurrences narrated in it. 

Dr. Newington's Asylum, April 26, 1832. 

HAVING for the last nine weeks or more been a resident in this 
asylum against my own will, and considering confinement in my 
case altogether unnecessary. 

Having also peculiar objections,* of a solid and justifiable 

* These objections are, first, that I AM A GENTLEMAN, and in affliction, the 
first ALONE makes my sense of confinement cruel, being, as I am, constantly ex- 
posed to meet other patients or their servants whenever I leave my room, and 
constantly when I go out or come in from exercise, as also when out walking. 

Secondly. That there is no fastening to the water-closet door so that I 
have seldom or never been there without being intruded upon suddenly by 
one or other of the domestics. This I have only once mentioned to Mr. New- 
ington, or twice. 

N.B. I do not object to this precaution in a lunatic asylum, though I 
suppose some fastening might be contrived which would secure a patient's 
feelings of delicacy and modesty from being insulted, and yet, if necessary, be 
opened by a stratagem from without side. 

Thirdly. I object, and have informed Mr. Newington of my objections 
since the first evening I have been here, to my having a man servant to sleep 
in my room with me. 

It is a filthy and stinking, and indelicate insult to my best feelings, besides 
this I consider it unwholesome. 

I think it also an inhuman and unnecessary regulation in any lunatic 
asylum for any person who objects to it; for the servants of two patients might 
sleep in a room between each of the patient's rooms, with doorways into them. 

Fourthly. There is an offensive practice in this asylum of leaving the 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 243 

nature, to public confinement, and to other regulations in Dr. 
Newington's establishment, extremely offensive and indelicate, 
and such as no gentleman ought to be subjected to longer than his 
madness renders absolutely necessary, nor indeed in my opinion 
even then. 



excrement of the patients in the pan of the water-closets for inspection, at the 
same time that they have not sufficient ventilation. This I have not yet men- 
tioned to Mr. Newington, because it is beastly, and yet I know he is aware of it. 

Fifthly. I object to having my walks for recreation spoilt, by the attend- 
ance of a common hind close upon my heels. 

Sixthly. I object to the general deportment of the servants of this asylum 
as being at the least rude, I have also no bell in my bed-room or sitting-room; 
and though these things may both be highly advantageous to a poor lunatic, 
I object to them both, as rendered unnecessary by my re-establishment in 
good health. 

Seventhly. I object to the annoyance of hearing them and the patients 
whistling, singing, fluting, fifing, fiddling, laughing, talking, running, and even 
occasionally dancing in the passages and wrestling. 

Eighthly. I feel a desire to seek society which I am suited to, and I consider 
it necessary for my advancement in good health. I have confidence in my reso- 
lution and habits to follow it only in moderation, and to leave it, if by chance 
necessary. 

Observation. I deem it is insane conduct on the part of a physician, as 
any insanity can be in a patient, not to persuade his patients and to prevail 
upon them to re-enter society suited to their habits, as also not to recommend 
their friends to place them where such society may be easily procured. I know- 
in some cases grief alone compels a person to retire from the world, but also it 
is injurious to a person to indulge that propensity too long. I know also that 
lunacy makes a person unfit for the society of his superiors, and often of his 
EQUALS, and as his fits, although only occasional, may return irregularly, he 
cannot be trusted, except where his eccentricities may be tolerated, when they 
are not of a kind to produce evil; but I consider any system of cure, which 
pretends as its BASIS on all occasions to separate a man or human being from the 
society he has been accustomed to, .unless at the very commencement of his 
affliction to be impious and madness as well as empiricism: in the very second 
chapter of the Bible; in the eighteenth verse our Maker expressly says of man, 
"!T is NOT good for man to be alone." I conceive that my Creator knows what 
is best for His own work, moreover this word has never been contradicted by 
my own experience, but mad doctors neglect the word of life! and follow their 
own conceits in insisting upon a regimen! I 

Ninthly. I object to the situation of Mr. Newington's asylum as very cold, 
and this partly owing to its lofty situation, partly to the cold clayey soil and 
other causes; the windows also and doors admit cold currents of air, so that I 
am compelled to sit with my feet in the fender, or over the fire-place to keep 
my feet warm, a dangerous and unwholesome remedy! 



244 PERCEVAL S NARRATIVE 

Having mentioned these objections to Dr. Newington and my 
family, by word of mouth and by letter repeatedly, in order to 
obtain my release. 

Having, also, expressed to my mother my willingness to consent 
to be confined still, in a private family, or private lodging, and 
also to Dr. Newington my readiness to submit to his control, if he 
could find lodgings for me in any warm farm-house or cottage in 
the neighbourhood, provided that he would allow me to sleep 
without a man servant in my bed-room. 

Having been asking of my mother a private lodging ever since 
the agth of November, 1831, as indispensable to my more speedy 
recovery and comfort. 

Having considered it also necessary to my more speedy recovery 
to seek the society of my equals, since the middle of March, and 
having mentioned this also to my mother, and Mr. Newington. 

Having received no satisfactory answer from my mother; but 
letters from herself and two of my sisters, by which it became evi- 
dent to me that they did not carefully read mine, nor consider my 
arguments. 

Having also had the misfortune of having seven of my letters 
to my family at home, and three to one of my brothers at Derby, 
miscarried. 

Having moreover received no answer at all to about forty-five 
other letters, addressed to different friends in order eventually to 
procure legal advice. 

Having in all written above sixty letters to obtain my release, 
with no success. 

Having also demanded leave to proceed to town to see my 
dentist, Mr. Cartwright, not having been attended to by one since 
I last left London in 1829, or 1830, and being also afraid to trust a 
country dentist, or indeed any other than Mr. or Mr. Cart- 
wright in town; and having been refused permission to proceed to 
town for this purpose by my mother and Mr. Newington. 

Having been also refused the same permission, both by Mr. 
Newington, at the advice of Dr. Mayo, owing to my nervous state 
of body and general health, and by my mother, at a time when I 
was particularly anxious to obtain the medical certificates of two 
surgeons and one apothecary, my acquaintance in town, to that 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 245 

VERY state of mind and body, which I attributed chiefly to my hav- 
ing been forced, contrary to my written request, to make use of the 
cold bath and shower-bath, during the winter of January, 1832, 
when in a delicate and already excited state of mind and frame; 
for which I purposed to prosecute the Drs. Fox, in order at least 
to expose their treatment to the scorn and hatred it deserves. 

Having also given my mother and Mr. Newington, as a reason 
for my proceeding to town, my wish to prosecute Dr. Fox, and the 
necessity of obtaining the advice of a legal friend, not to commence 
immediate prosecution, but to take such steps as might ensure my 
ultimate success: having been refused this request by Mr. New- 
ington, although I offered to go up to town with any one of his 
domestics, and to return in three days if my mother chose, or the 
keeper thought me injured by the sight of, and by communication 
with my friends. 

Having given Mr. Newington solid reasons for my not antici- 
pating a relapse, which is the only objection he gave me at that 
time for my not proceeding to London; and now* "for my not 
having a private lodging in this neighbourhood." 

Being also subject to various other inconveniences, privations, 
and mockeries of my reason, impertinenceSj and insults, and 
neglects. 

Having also waited NINE weeks for the arrival of the visiting 
magistrates in vain, who are my only protectors! and feeling that 
they after all are holding an office for which, in one sense at least, 
they appear to be not responsible; fearing also that they might not 
pay attention to my arguments, but act from prejudice and sus- 
picion, without being culpable before the tribunals of my country 
which others already have done; as well as mistake my reasons, 
and having no other means of obtaining release. 

Having also, in vain, asked for Mr. Courthope's direction, he 
being on a tour, or party of pleasure. 

* Except, nota bent, one notable reason, that he thinks it right to keep me 
with something to hope forl that he thinks my hopes of benefiting by more 
privacy will be disappointedl Ergo, it is imprudent to try it, as if forsooth fol- 
lowing a reasonable course to pursue a probable and healthy end, was like a 
gambler throwing his last stake, or a general sacrificing his best troops at a 
venture. 



246 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

Having also no legal assistance, nor any offered to me but that 
of Mr. Newington's own solicitor. 

Having moreover applied, in March, to Captain Wetherall, 
magistrate, of Paixley, Ticehurst, for his opinion and protection, 
and having only received good wishes as an answer, and the assur- 
ance that he had no authority. 

Having, also (if my memoranda are not incorrect), addressed a 
letter to Mr. Courthope* on the i$th of April, to which I received 
no answer. 

/ resolved to endeavour to effectuate my own escape, even at 
the risk of my own life and limbs, or at the expense of another's 
blood; being as I conceived illegally, cruelly, and also unreasonably 
CONFINED; but besides exposed to treatment in that confinement 
which was offensive, unbecoming, indelicate, and not to be put up 
with any longer with patience, and, therefore, a continual irrita- 
tion to my mind, and cause of ruin to my soul; viz., a temptation 
to fretfulness, anger, wrath, impatience, impenitence, vindictive 
feelings; and also of great injury to my moral system, being only in 
company with my inferiors, and exposed to the intercourse of ill- 
educated hinds, over whom I have little control. 

On Tuesday, April 17, I attempted to put my resolution into 
execution according to a plan I had been before thinking of; 
having an opportunity by my attendant seeming to dose on a car- 
penter's stool. Two dogs barking as I passed through a farm-yard, 
alarmed some peasants working in a field through which I had 
designed passing; this impeded me, and occasioned my servant's 
obtaining sight of me, who came up to me as I leaped into a lane. 

His words were, "Ay, now, you'll come along, back again." "Not 
for those words," said I, "at any rate I will give you a start, so here 
goes." I commenced running down the lane he pursued; but 
feeling that I had not breath, nor probably strength enough to 
run so long as he could, and also fancying that he was gaining 
^gtound of me, I saw that my only chance was to get into the fields, 

'. escape, if I could, in the woods, by his losing sight of me. I 

* Directed to Mr. Courthope, at Ticehurst. Mr. C. received it, but I do 
t know when; he gave me no answer till he came to visit the asylum on the 
yth of May; he had been in the country some time previous to the visit. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 247 

saw some bars, which, in my confusion, I thought to vault over, 
but when I had lost my time to consider them, I found them too 
high. In endeavouring to clamber over them my servant caught 
me by the skirts of my coat. 

He had before pursued me with words, saying, 'You have 
dropped your watch," "Ah, I'll make you pay for this when I catch 
you!" &c. He now held me between his arms, pressing me with 
his breast closely against the bars, when he recovered his breath a 
little, he began, "Eh! now you'll walk back, or else I'll make you. 
Eh! you thought I was asleep I wasn't though! I knew what you 
were about. Now come along back, or else I'll make you! Pretty 
behaviour this for a gentleman! Aren't you ashamed of yourself? 
I'll teach you to run away from me come along back?" "No, I 
won't," said I. "Won't you?" said he. "No, not by your making 
not by you alone;" and I begged him, bantering, to leave me, and 
go back for his coat. "Not without you," he said. Then I proceed- 
ed to try my strength at wrestling with him, and having laid hold 
of his neck, was tempted to throttle him, but my stomach revolted 
at the idea which I had seen practised on patients at another luna- 
tic asylum, and I said, "No, I won't do that." I also perceived that 
he was stronger than I was. 

As he however attempted to force me from the bars, or to keep 
me there, I endeavoured to wrestle with him, but he seized me by 
my neckcloth and soon had me on my back on the ground. He 
there shook me, not however very violently, by the neckcloth, three 
or four times against the ground, as I still refused to return with 
him. He kept vomiting forth his fury in threats, "Ah, I'll have 
you in the straight waistcoat all day for thisl You shall never 
come out again any morel You shall be locked up all the day 
through. Ill manage you! They shall put you into the dungeon!" 
"Dungeon!" said I, "I didn't know that there was one." "But 
there is though. They shall put you in along with the madmen; 
now come along back." I told him, "Now, Rolph, or what is your 
name; hold your tongue, and listen to me, I will speak to you. I 
consider myself illegally confined here, and justified in attempting 
to take your life, or to knock you down, in recovering my liberty; 
which I would do now if I were strong enough, but you have the 



248 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

broader pair of shoulders. I am an Englishman, and love my 
liberty as well as you or any other man; and besides think that I 
might recover my good health sooner elsewhere. I counsel you, 
therefore, to let me go; for by the Lord, I will hold you responsible 
at law, as well as Dr. Newington and others, for my illegal deten- 
tion, if it is illegal; in that case, my day is yet to come. You know 
the old proverb, 'Every dog has his day/ or, 'My day now, yours 
to-rnorrow/ I warn you therefore, to be careful what you do, and 
to use no unnecessary violence to force me to return, nor to attempt 
it, but to let me proceed." 

A bricklayer's labourer having come up, who was sent after me 
by his master to assist Rolph, I told him to leave me alone, that 
it was no business or affair of his at any rate; and I threatened to 
prosecute him also for an assault against my person, if I could, 
when I recovered my liberty; telling him also that I considered 
myself unjustly confined, and asking him how he would like im- 
prisonment his own self. I also warned him of a passage in Prov- 
erbs, "He that passeth by and meddleth with strife that doth not 
belong to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears." As he, 
however, was not rebuked by me, I told him, "then I will not 
return home without your having assaulted me, that I may prove 
your interference in a court of justice." 

Accordingly I resisted the two men till I was again thrown on 
the ground, and afterwards only walked home in their custody. 

On my arrival at home, I met Mr. Newington, who ran up to 
meet me. He took me by the hand; I believe I was rather nervous, 
but collected; he remonstrated with me upon what had taken 
place, and argued with me. I laughed a great deal at his manner 
and his reasoning, but I told him I should certainly attempt my 
escape by force, if I could, as I had already warned him. 

He told me I was mistaken in my legal opinion that I had a 
right to take away another's life, and justified in doing so to effect 
my freedom. 

I answered, "In that case I am wrong; but you, sir, are no law- 
yer, and I must have legal opinion. But, 1 ' said I, "at any rate, sir, 
I will not attempt the life of another till I am satisfied by a lawyer 
that I have to right to do so." 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 249 

He told me he considered it his duty to confine me. I told him 
I also had a duty I owed to my God to escape from unjust con- 
finement, if I could, under circumstances which I could not bear. 

Mr. Newington told me, "There, my good sir, you are in a 
delusion/' This was his duty, if he thought so, and noble and 
candid! I replied, "We differ in opinion, we must leave it to others 
to decide." 

Other conversation of more importance took place; but refer- 
ring to other matters, lawsuit, &c. 

In the same evening he returned to my room, saying to me 
"Well, now sir, what am I to do? Your servant told me that you 
attempted to strangle him, and he is afraid to sleep with you, and 
so are all the servants of the house." 

I interrupted him, seeing what was coming, and said, "Then, 
sir, that will just do; you know I do not wish to have any one to 
sleep with me, I have told you so, long ago and often, and it is one 
of my objections to continuing under your care/' 

He said, "No, that will not do, I must have you fastened in 
your bed, or two servants must sleep with you, one is afraid to 
sleep with you alone." 

I said, "That is, sir, to offer me an additional insult for no 
reason; but I must submit to it, I suppose. Why should I not, 
however, have my room to myself?" 

Mr. Newington. "You'll try to effect your escape, sir, during 
the night." 

Lunatic! "How so, sir," said I, "I cannot fly through the bars, 
and you know it: besides there is a bolt, as you also know, outside 
my door, which can be bolted." 

Mr. N. "Ay, sir, but you'll try to break through the walls of the 
house." 

Lunatic! "How can I, sir? What! do you think that I can do 
this with my earthenware pitcher and glass decanter? No, sir; but 
you are now a lunatic yourself, and are mocking me, and deter- 
mined to insult my weakness." 

Mr. Newington paused a few moments, and then said, "You 
must be confined in your bed, the servant won't sleep with you 
otherwise." 



250 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

Lunatic! "What does he fear, sir?" 

Mr. N. "Why, you'll get up in the night and strangle him, or 
something! You'll try to effect your escape!" 

Lunatic! "How can you think that, sir, possible? You know 
in the first place that 1 am locked in, and in the next place he is 
stronger than I, and there are about half a dozen young hearty 
fellows within call on each side of us, how can you think that I 
could attempt any thing so foolish?" 

Mr. N. "A sudden impulse may seize you. You ran away, 
I thought that you would never have run away," 

Lunatic! "You know that it was no sudden impulse made me 
run away, but that I have given you warning that I would attempt 
it long ago, and I have been conning over my plan ever since I was 
here." 

Mr. N. "It was an act of folly and madness." 

Lunatic! "No, sir, it was an act that required forethought, 
dexterity, courage, fortitude and resolution, and enterprise." 

Mr. N. "Well, sir, I must have you confined; none of my 
servants will sleep with you." 

Lunatic! "You. know, sir, I neither want them, nor need them;" 
but, said I, "perhaps if you will allow me to make my case known 
to the female keepers, one of them will have no objection to sleep 
with me unconfined?" This I said in fun, for I saw that reason 
was useless. 

At night he attended himself, kindly enough to see his own 
ridiculous and unreasonable precaution carried into execution, 
for fear I might be tempted to further acts of violence. When the 
manacle, however, was on my arm, he conceived that I could slip 
my hand through it. I did not answer him, for I thought him too 
absurd to be reasoned with; but I asked him if he was not afraid 
the iron would melt during the night: the one seemed as prob- 
able as the other to myself. 

After having tried about six or seven bolts, one was deemed 
sufficiently tight to ensure my safety, and I was left, to be put into 
a fever by its confinement through the whole night. Mr. Newing- 
ton told me that many patients requested to have the manacles 
put on. I answered, "I hope they like it," and thought such people 
are surely made for these houses. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 251 

Mr. Newington also, during the day, threatened to make my 
man-servant sit continually in the room with me. I insisted upon 
this not being done, as he knew that I could not make my escape 
through the iron-barred window; and that I was perfectly capable 
of being trusted alone, having been so now eight weeks or more 
in his own asylum, and one week also and some days allowed to 
sit alone in the asylum which I quitted to come here; I also added, 
"Besides this, sir, my door can be bolted outside, if my servant will 
stay within call." 

Next morning I went out walking, as he had resolved, with 
two attendants. I find this unexpectedly a great relief to me (as 
they are occupied with conversation between each other, which 
distracts their attention from me), and to my feeling of annoyance 
at being alone with a being who cannot behave to me respectfully, 
and yet whom I feel called upon at times to make some observation 
to very likely through lunacy. 

In the afternoon I wished to go again to see the labourers at 
work, which is the only amusement I have here; but I find an order 
is now given that I should not go there, now that my way of escape 
is discovered! and that I am doubly guarded. 

Mr. Newington also has refused me leave to walk off his prem- 
ises in this beautiful country. This is another precaution in which 
he is only justifiable by the supposition that I am a lunatic, and 
likely to do myself or others injury off his grounds; or at liberty. 
It is true, there are probably more chances of escape in my being 
amongst the woods and farm-houses, than on his grounds; but he 
must suppose me a madman to attempt to escape by stealth or with- 
out assistance from two clowns both my superiors in strength and 
courage, and swiftness, and knowledge of the country. 

Mr. Newington also had informed me, on Tuesday, that by an 
Act of Parliament, I was defended by two thingsthe appointment 
of magistrates to superintend these asylums, and the existence of a 
commission in town to prosecute lunatic physicians and others 
for the unjust detention of lunatics:* and I told him that this 
altered my relations to the government of my country very much 
in my opinion, that I should therefore hesitate long before I at- 

* This I found afterwards was a complete falsehood. 



252 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

tempted to escape from the asylum by violence, and that I should 
not attempt it at all until I had further information and legal 
advise, unless as sure as I could be of succeeding. 

I therefore considered his forcing me to be attended by two 
keepers an unnecessary precaution, and intended partly as an in- 
sult or act of tyranny to punish me for having attempted to escape: 
whereas, he ought to have punished his servant for allowing me so 
fair a chance. But I am thankful that it is rather a blessing than 
a punishment. 

I consider the fears of his servants, and his own, of my being 
capable of so wantonly cruel, desperate, and useless an attempt as 
to strangle my servant at night, to escape from the house, if pre- 
tended, as insulting me, if real, as lunacy; so also with regard to my 
being able to get my hand through any of the bolts he put upon 
me, this was absolute lunacy, uncontrolled and unreasonable fear, 
proceeding to an act of wanton tyranny! 

On Monday night, April 23, I desired my servant to ask the 
butler for another manacle to my wrist, as the one I had on was so 
tight it hurt my wrist. The butler came up shortly without one, 
and told me, "That I couldn't really be hurt by it surely, for Mr. 
Newington put it on himself, and he is afraid that you will slip 
your hand through another," or words tantamount. I told him, 
"Mr. Hervey, you are both mocking me and giving me the lie. I 
don't care for Mr. Newington or any one else. I desire that you 
will walk out of the room." "No, sir, I don't wish to give you the 
lie; I am sure I didn't give you the lie." "You have, Mr. Hervey, 
in spirit at least if not more, so I pray you leave the room." 

On Tuesday night Mr. Hervey brought me a new bolt by Mr. 
Newington put it on himself, and he is afraid that you will slip 
pretty well. 

On Wednesday, the 25th, I went out walking, only in the after- 
noon, the forenoon it was cold and rainy: during the week I had 
practised myself in running to gain wind. This afternoon as I was 
passing through one gate from another to complete my walk round 
the grounds along a back lane which passes through the grounds, 
the servant told me, "Sir, I have orders from my master to make 
you return through the same gate, and not to allow you to go 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 253 

down that lane any more." I said to him, "Nonsense, who gave 

you those orders?" "Mr. Newington, sir." "D n Mr. Newing- 

ton," I answered, and proceeded to walk down the lane. "Mr. 
Newington has desired me to prevent you, sir; therefore, it is of no 

use." "I don't care a d n for Mr. Newington," I replied, "he is 

an old fool!" and I proceeded to run down the lane; it proceeds to 
the back of his asylum, and is not three hundred yards long. The 
servant overtook me, and threatened to force me to go back. I said, 
"No, I insist upon going on." He told me, "No sir, it's of no use, 
you can't overcome me, it's no use trying/' I told him, I must try 
one day or other, so I might endeavour as well then as later. He 
struggled with me some time, but as I found him apparently 
stronger, and I had no great object in view, I said, "Oh, very well 
then, if I must not go that way" he let go of me "let us try 
another," and I made full speed for the turnpike; he overtook me, 
however. I again wrestled with him to try his strength, but found 
him at least one third my superior. 

We had a good deal of conversation; and I walked with him 
into the grounds, here after proceeding through the garden* on to 
the broad walk, I broke off the conversation, by saying, "well then 
let us run here at any rate," and set off at an easy pace as I had 
previously used to do; "No, sir, you must not run any more, I have 
orders to prevent you from Mr. Newington!" "Nonsense," replied 
I, "I will run when I will, and walk when I will at least" I ran 
again to try his speed; he overtook me decidedly, and insisted on 
my walking, and walking in. "No," said I, "not unless you make 
me, neither will I walk; I have my exercise to take, and if I choose 
to run I will run, if I prefer walking I will walk." 

It ended in my wrestling with him to prevent him forcing me 
in, at last he carried me neck and crop. During the afternoon I did 
not see Mr. Newington, I believe that he was unwell, but the 
servants of their own forethought and resolution sat with me in 
my room. I did not object to this; for though I did not feel 
prompted to do any mischief, if they thought that I was a lunatic, 
they were justified in taking precautions against it. But I observe 

* The little fruit-garden at the east entrance. 



254 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

that its continuance unjustly, that is unnecessarily, is likely to 
tempt a person to acts of violence, who has other many serious 
causes for complaint, which he feels unjust, malicious, and op- 
pressive. 

The same conduct being adopted towards me by the servants 
on the morrow (this day the 26th), I inquired if they had any 
orders to do so of my friend Rolph, as I thought it unnecessary, for 
they knew I was not lunatic, but perfectly calm, and peaceably 
striking on my pianoforte during the most part of the evening, 
also studying, and teaching one of them to spell and write. But 
I find that Dr. Newington has given orders for them to continue 
in my room! This I consider as an additional provocation to re- 
sistance and an insult, and an act of oppression. I hope however 
it will be discontinued to-morrow. 

But, moreover, yesterday evening, the butler, Mr. Hervey, came 
to tell me, "Oh! sir, Mr. Newington hopes that you won't mind 
having another person to sleep with you to-night." 

"Mr. Newington," said I, "knows my mind well enough upon 
that subject! I have already told him that I object to having one 
man in my bed-room! it is not necessary, arid he knows it. But I 
must consent to what I cannot prevent." I then said, "but if it must 
be so, I hope you will give orders that I may have my window open 
two or three inches." "I don't know, sir, whether Mr. Newington 
would like that, sir!" "I do not know, sir," said I, "whether Mr. 
Newington likes it or not, I know that I do, and as he pretends to 
consult my wishes, that is my wish, which I desire may be attended 
to. I consider it unwholesome." "Oh, sir, but you have the ven- 
tilator." "What ventilator do you mean, Mr. Hervey?" "The 
chimney] sir." "That is no ventilator, however, sir, as I see I can- 
not have this wish," I pointed to the doors out of repair, and my 
sofa not covered fit for a gentleman's sitting-room, "perhaps your 
master will be so good as to put my room into decent order at least, 
which I have requested some time ago. That at least is one of my 
wishes, if he is pleased to consult my mind." 

I cannot but express my opinion, that this too is an act of 
tyranny and wilful provocation, I am thankful however that I 
have not yet been provoked to any act of violence by it, having 
had prudence to delay at least what I purpose doing if it be per- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 255 

sisted in, i.e. to pour water upon the beds of my servants when 
night comes on. 

It cannot be for safety or precaution, it can only be a mali- 
cious affront, and perhaps purposed by design to provoke me to 
some further acts of violence, which may be misconstrued and at- 
tributed to lunacy; at least, I do not think myself unjust in this 
suspicion, for I already have one servant in my room, I am fastened 
by a bolt on my wrist, attached to a chain covered with leather to 
the frame of the bed, and servants sleep in all the rooms of the 
passage, which runs by my bed-room door; it is therefore a design 
to retaliate upon me my opposition to his folly out of doors, by 
fresh folly within! to provoke me to folly, perhaps to some un- 
guarded expressions, and to break my spirit. 

Mr. Newington called on me this (Thursday) evening about 
half-past nine o'clock. The butler who was with me left the room, 
Mr, N appeared to me to be proud, haughty, wrathful, malig- 
nant, and also, I grieved to see, unwelll he stood by the mantel- 
piece, and I shook myself as I rose up from the sofa, on which I was 
reading, half dozing. 

He asked me how I was, I told him very well, and asked him 
how he was, observing his ill health, mentioning that I heard that 
he was ill, and was sorry for it, we were then silent for a few mo- 
ments, and he asked me jocularly what had happened the day 
before; I was resolved to take up the matter rather warmly and 
seriously, and asked him if he had given orders that I should not 
be allowed to take exercise, running if I preferred. "Why no, why 
do you wish to run? you should not run, it's bad for your state of 
mind, it heats the head, it calls the heart and lungs, Sec. to an un- 
wholesome action for one in a weak state of bodily health, it makes 
the blood to flow fast, rise to the head (or word of this kind) &c 
8cc. Sec." I attempted to argue with him, rather in anger, but as he 
stopped my mouth, and it appeared to me, probably, if not evi- 
dently, his intention to jeer at me, I desisted. 

He at last desisted speaking; when he was done, I then said, 
"I wish also to know sir, why I have an additional man-servant in 
my room, and why my servants are desired to sit in my sitting-room 
with me." 

"Because sir, we didn't know what vou might do yesterday. If 



256 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

you had behaved well you should have had your servants taken 
out of your room! You did not behave properly yesterday." 

"Sir," said I, "you know at any rate that I was fastened in my 
bed up stairs, and therefore could do no harm, for I could not get 
loose. Your intention has been to insult me; but as the Lord lives 
(my frame trembled with wrath), I will make you and others repent. 
With regard to removing my other servant sir, it is too late to talk 
of that now, I have often spoken of it, too long for me to value, or 
rely upon what you express to have been your intentions." 

He said to me, "Come, don't put yourself into a passion, there 
is no use in your being angry, we'll deal as awkwardly as others did 
to you elsewhere; so don't put yourself into a passion:" before this, 
he had spoken to me something about law and solicitors, and I 
told him that he used very big language; but that I believed that I 
was right after all, in spite of his superior information; he con- 
tinued his jeering, threatening manner, and I continued for a 
sentence or two to speak with warmth and vehemence, but fearing 
that I might be misrepresented, I suddenly left off and sat down. 

He continued, saying, "Besides, sir, I have heard other things 
since these two last days, I have heard things which you are not 
aware of." This appeared intended to lead me into foolish re- 
marks, so I took no notice of it, but sat down and spoke to him 
afterwards in indignation at what I was made to endure. He again 
told me that I must learn to be patient, and jeered and insulted 
me, so I desired him to leave my room, he said he would not, and 
hesitated; then I said, "I believe that it is the hour of bed-time in 
your asylum sir, and I will desire my servant to show me up stairs." 
I then called the servant, and after a few more sentences, I bowed 
to him and wished him good night. 

Friday, twelve o'clock. Mr. Newington called on me, offered 
to shake hands. He followed me into my room, telling me to for- 
give and forget was my duty: he had brought a letter and parcel 
from my mother. 

The parcel was on my pianoforte! We had some conversation, 
in which I mentioned still my dislike to being prevented taking 
exercise as I wished; but I expressed my sorrow at having disturb- 
ed any gentleman by running when taking exercise, if I really had 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 257 

done so, which I did not believe. I told him that I thought I had 
run only when out of sight, but that at any rate I would take care 
to do so. 

I did not satisfy him, nor he me. He told me, one patient, a 
gentleman in a cloak, had observed me running, and asked hi 
if I was not deranged, and that that gentleman was a first-rate 
scholar, and had gone through, I do not know how many books of 
mathematics in a shorter time than any one else! I did not of 
course mention to Mr. N my reason for running. 

He next told me, that yesterday he had been to travel upwards 

of forty miles. I understand, to have a consultation with Sir 

Tothill and another physician, concerning another lunatic, a 
gentleman who had been residing in a cottage with two keepers, 
had been visited by two physicians, or by one twice a week, and 
having only seen those three faces, wished naturally for more soci- 
ety. He was coming to Dr. Newington's at his own request! If so 
poor fool! 

I seized the moment to offer to Mr. N in fun to make an 

exchange of prisoners, but it was to no purpose. The additional 
man-servant did not sleep in my room this (Friday) night the 
servants continue to sit in my sitting-room. 



CHAPTER XXXII 



March, 1840. 

HAVING proceeded thus far, I must now again interrupt the 
Diary to approach the most difficult, and in a scientific point of 
view the most important part of this work. So difficult, that I 
acknowledge I have hitherto shrunk from and feel unequal to the 
task; and I suspect that this has been a great cause of my delay in 
bringing it to a conclusion. I began about this time (April 17, to 
May, 1832), to declare that I was of sound mind; I will endeavour 
to explain how I became so, and to show at the same time, the 
origin and nature of those delusions under which I laboured, and 
under which I was destroyed. In doing so I shall make known 
spiritual or mental phenomena, which will hardly, I am afraid, 
find credit; but I bear testimony to them with an honest and up- 
right heart, striving only to express myself accurately, and to report 
faithfully what I have experienced. They who give credit to me, 
will find, perhaps, the foundation of a new system of metaphysi- 
cal and moral faith and practice. My first and chief difficulty will 
be so to order my ideas as to be intelligible; my second, so to 
describe what I have witnessed, as not to be turned to ridicule. I 
fear I may fail in the first, for even the memory of the past is very 
painful to me, much more to dwell upon and arrange the ideas that 
present themselves to me. I am conscious too, that I am exposing 
my own follies and my dulness of apprehension. 

Having adopted at an early age the opinion that the religion 
of Jesus Christ was a true religion, I resolved to look to the New 
Testament alone for a knowledge of the doctrines of that religion; 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 259 

and I was confirmed in my purpose by the suspicion which arose 
from comparing the conduct and expressions of society with the 
standard of faith and practice contained in the Scriptures, that 
the style and tone, the thought and practice of modern Christians 
were not correct. At the same time being aware of great and re- 
peated faults in my own conduct, and being as I thought unable 
to find in my own mind any sense of the fear or love of God, of the 
reality of heaven or of hell but fancying that my life was not regu- 
lated by any such ideas, I was unable to decide whether I might 
not be mistaken in my suspicion, seeing, or imagining that others 
whom I condemned lived so much more regularly than I did, and 
with so much more propriety, and having to censure all whom I 
respected. Continually accusing myself of being without faith, 
and of being full of insincerity I suffered extremely; for who was 
I, that I should find fault with others? Yet the Scripture to which 
I clung, seemed to condemn both them and me. 

In those Scriptures I found the promise of miraculous gifts by 
the Holy Spirit to those who had faith, and I could not agree with 
the received opinion of the church, or admit that there was any 
reason why those gifts should not be now received, but want of 
faith; and in the habit of churchmen not to believe that they were 
any longer possible, or to be expected, I saw excellent reason for 
their not appearing, as they were gifts to faith and not to unbelief. 
I do not now allow that I was wrong in this view of Christian doc- 
trine, for though I acknowledge it is written that gifts of tongues, 
and of prophecies should fail, when that which is perfect is come 
yet let me ask any sober and unprejudiced man, is the present 
divided and degraded state of the Christian church a state of per- 
fection? or does he suppose that the bare establishment of Chris- 
tianity is that perfection alluded to by the apostle? 

I used then with great fervency to apply to our present wants 
,that beautiful prayer, "OhI Lord we have heard with our ears, and 
our fathers have declared unto us THE NOBLE WORKS THAT THOU 
DID'ST in their days, and in the old time before them, oh! Lord 
arise, help us, and deliver us for THINE HONOUR." 

At the commencement of the year 1830, I was proceeding to 
the continent on a visit to one of my brothers who was at Ghent. 



260 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

It so happened, that I was very anxious whether I should cross 
from Margate to Ostend, or go to Dover, to join a friend and from 
thence with him through Calais and Dunkerque to Belgium. I 
was alone in the coach on my way to Canterbury, and J knelt down 
for guidance, unable to determine for myself, and I prayed in an 
agony the Lord's prayer. Whilst praying, I saw a vision of three 
countenances in travelling-caps, which succeeded one another. 
At the appearance of one of these countenances I shuddered with 
horror; but my mind became troubled; I was astonished I seemed 
to doubt at which I had shuddered I became disturbed, and it 
seemed to me that in consequence of my being so puzzled and 
doubting, the vision was taken away.* I resumed my seat in the 
coach, wondering and stilled. I resolved at length when I left the 
coach at Canterbury to go by Margate. I got into the coach at 
night; we were delayed a great deal by the snow, and when day- 
light came I saw in the coach with me two young men with travel- 
ling-caps such as I had seen in my vision, and the features of one of 
these young men, who was a German, were exceedingly fair, mild, 
and regular, with yellow hair, such as I had seen in the vision. I 
was puzzled, when seeing the vision, to know whether I had shud- 
dered at seeing this young man or at the sight of another; and I had 
thought to myself "Can there be any evil in one so beautiful?" And 
again I suspected I had offended the Almighty by supposing there 
could be evil in him. When I made acquaintance with my young 
fellow-traveller, I found that he was a well-disposed, honest, young 
Calvinist, who, though young, had thought seriously. I looked 
among the other travellers by the coach for the third cap. No one 
wore any thing resembling it; but after I had descended, in the 
morning, into the cabin of the steamer, a very strange and singular 
man came down, and I recognised on his head the other cap I had 
seen in the vision. This gentleman, from the moment he entered, 
made use of the most horrid oaths, scarcely opening his lips without 
one, until I ventured to reprove him, and, after a short argument, 
he gave up making use of them, for he was a gentleman, and we 
were on good terms afterwards. I was subsequently informed that 
he had been of unsound mind. He was certainly very wild. 

* Compare Isaiah xxx. 15, and xxxii. 17, 18. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 261 

I have an impression that I saw, on another occasion, a similar 
vision, of which I do not recollect the particulars. I remember 
well, however, when on the point of leaving the army, and uncer- 
tain whether I would go to study at Dublin or at Oxford, being at 
my mother's house, I knelt down in my room, and prayed fervently 
to be directed rightly. I then saw, in a vision, a friend of one of my 
brothers whom I had known at Harrow School, sitting in a library 
with book-cases in it, in an arm-chair, at a table, and dressed in 
the cap and gown of the University, opposite to a fire-place, which 
was on my left hand between us, and with whom I appeared to be 
conversing, and who, during the conversation we were holding 
together, referred to a large folio volume. I said to myself, "Good 

God! that is H , only his hair appears to be darker than it was 

at Harrow." Upon my arrival at Oxford, I found that this gentle- 
man was at Brazenose College, and having gone one day to have 
certain points connected with the University oath explained to 
me, I found him sitting exactly as I had foreseen in the vision, and 
made the observation to myself, that his hair appeared darker than 
when he was at school; upon which, if I recollect right, I suddenly 
remembered the vision, and I became troubled, not knowing how 
to proceed, or how to direct the conversation, in the course of which 
he referred to a book, indeed, but to an octavo, not a folio volume. 
I have since questioned in my own mind, whether this discrepancy 
between what I had foreseen and what had come to pass did not 
arise from my trouble of mind and disobedience to the spirit which 
should have guided me in my conversation;* for it appears to me 
from experience, that the Almighty can indeed foreshow future 
events that may happen, but that the fulfilment of the details, or 
even of the vision itself may in some cases depend on the will and 
conduct of him to whom it has been manifested;f for it is evident, 
if any man should foresee that he should arrive at a certain place, 
and see or do there certain things, if it is at all left to his will to 
have those things fulfilled, he may thwart the counsels of Divine 
Providence, by immediately leaving or passing through that place. 
The prophecies concerning Jesus, if they are true, could never have 

* Psalm iv. 4; xlvi. 10. Isaiah xxx. 7. 

f I Kings xiii. 9, 19. Jonah i. 3. Numbers xxii. 12, so, si, 32. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 2 6 3 

misunderstood, than to sit down and compress the events of cen- 
turies into the lapse of one generation, and reject what we cannot 
reconcile with our chronological table as fabulous: so, when we 
find writers of all nations and all religions, from Moses and Homer 
almost to our own times, bearing witness to the foretelling of 
future events, it is more reasonable to suppose that such a faculty 
is inherent in man, and to seek out the rules of an obsolete science, 
than to dismiss all these records from our minds as fanciful and 
untrue. 

There are others who may be disposed to turn to ridicule the 
homeliness, if I may so call it, of the visions which I have recorded, 
-to them I would call to mind the vision of St. Peter, when he saw 
all manner of flesh and fowl descending before him in a sheet; 
to others who may say, "But of what use were these visions? they 
could not serve as a guidance, but only as an assurance afterwards 
that the persons who saw them had been f ollowing the counsels of 
Divine Providence;" I would reply, that that assurance is a source 
of great peace to a troubled mind, and that this lesson may be 
derived from them, that in the ordinary conduct of human life, 
the exercise of the understanding is sufficient to direct those who 
are desirous to serve their Redeemer. 

After these visions, which made me more disposed to listen to 
the accounts which reached me of certain miraculous gifts to in- 
dividuals of the church of Scotland, in the neighbourhood of Row, 
and Port Glasgow, in Scotland, when I had been some time at Row, 
attending meetings of these persons, a power came upon me of 
chanting words of Scripture, and words of spiritual exhortation 
without premeditation. I also felt myself impelled to address 
persons whom I did not know before, with passages of Scripture 
that arose in my memory; on one of these occasions, without my 
being aware of it, one of the party was a young lady, to whom I had 
promised to communicate the result of my investigation into the 
truth of the above miracles. About the same time, when I was at 
the manse of Row, one day the spirit of Mary Campbell, one of the 
inspired persons in the neighbourhood, seemed to come upon me, 
and directed me to leave the room in which I was staying, and to 
go to my own room and kneel down in prayer; this was the first 



264 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

time that I felt myself guided, and yielded myself to be guided 
as by visible or palpable spirit. At the same place, and in Dublin 
passages of the Old Testament were applied to me, which I turned 
to by the direction of a spirit, in which I was threatened with the 
most dreadful punishments, and with madness* if I were not faith- 
ful to the guidances which were given to me; again in Ireland, 
when I was attending a meeting in behalf of a Bible society at 
which I had promised to speak, my hands were guided to seek for 
passages in the New Testament, which I opened in a consecutive 
order in support of the line of argument I designed following. 
Later, in Dublin, I had warnings of evil of another kind, and when 
I was ill, my hand was guided to write in a style unusual to me. 
Then, also, I often yielded my limbs to be guided by influences 
which came upon me, which seemed to me like walking in a new 

life; on one occasion particularly, after my friend Captain H 

had rebuked me for my room being in disorder, I was very much 
grieved; and when he had left the room, a spirit came upon me, 
and in obedience to it I began arranging the room and putting my 
clothes in order in the wardrobe. On another occasion, whilst I 
was undressing to go to bed, I was taught to assume graceful atti- 
tudes of different kinds, chiefly of adoration and at one moment 
to understand myself in spirit to be as St. John the apostle, at 
another as Judas and this depended upon a turn of thought, to 
me unintelligible at which I became so alarmed and troubled, 
that the spirit or influence guiding me seemed to vanish and I 
exclaimed or chanted sorrowfully, and by inspiration "Oh! where 
is my beloved gone?" When I was likened to St. John the apostle, 
I saw my countenance and form in the glass fair and bright but 
when I was likened to Judas, my face was dark; whether this arose 
from any internal operation of the mind, by which the visual 
organs were affected, or, from my face being accidentally in the 
shade without my observing it, I do not know; the first is most 
probable; because afterwards I saw the countenances of others 
thus change from light to dark when in the same position relative 
to me and the light; but they appeared more black, and I was then 

* Jeremiah i. 17; and Deuteronomy xxviii., particularly ver. 28, 29. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 265 

more weak. I have seen large pier-glasses in England and in France 
which make the reflections from them appear black instead of fair 
they who have looked into them, and noticed the fact, will under- 
stand in some sort the effect of my experience. 

Only a short time before I was confiined to my bed I began 
to hear voices, at first only close to my ear, afterwards in my head, 
or as if one was whispering in my ear, or in various parts of the 
room. These voices I obeyed or endeavoured to obey, and be- 
lieved almost implicitly; especially after my mind was entirely 
deranged; I understood them to be the words of the Lord or of his 
Spirits. Afterwards, when I was very faint and ill, I saw visions 
of various kinds, the countenances of my friends and relations 
now white, now red as in flames; venerable countenances with 
flowing locks and silvery beards the hand and arm of death 
stretched over me, and processions, beautifully delineated, like 
those of the ancient pagans. 

Those voices commanded me to do, and made me believe a 
number of false and terrible things. I threw myself out o bed 
I tried to twist my neck, I struggled with my keepers. When I 
came to Dr. Fox's I threw myself over a style, absolutely head over 
heels, wrestled with the keepers to get a violent fall, asked them 
to strangle me, endeavoured to suffocate myself on my pillow, See., 
threw myself flat on my face down steep slopes and upon the gravel 
walk, called after people as my mother, brothers, and sisters, and 
cried out a number of sentences, usually in verse, as I heard them 
prompted to me in short for a whole year I scarcely uttered a 
syllable, or did a single act but from inspiration; though I now 
know that scarcely one of the things I said, or one of the things I 
did, was I intended to perform. 

During this year, also, I heard very beautiful voices, singing 
to me in the most touching manner and on one occasion I heard 
the sounds of the cattle lowing and of other beasts in the fields, 
convey articulate sentences to me, as it is written of Balaam. On 
another I was threatened terribly by the thunder from heaven 
in short, nearly all sounds that I heard were clothed with articu- 
lation. I saw also visions, and the same day that I heard the cattle 
addressing me, on looking up into heaven, as I was leaving Dr. 



266 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

Fox's premises, I saw a beautiful vision of the Lord descending 
with all his saints. During the same year, I also saw the faces of 
persons who approached me, clothed with the features of my 
nearest relations, and earliest acquaintance, so that I called out 
their names, and could have sworn, but for the immediate change 
of countenance, that my friends had been there. As they were 
walking at some distance their stature also changed. 

I recollect that even at the height of my delusions I refused to 
obey these voices on several occasions, when by obeying them I 
was afraid of taking away the life of my attendants for instance 
I was often desired to push a man named Hobbs backwards into 
an empty bath, but I was afraid to do it, lest I should injure him. 
I also often through disappointment and rage through fatigue and 
despair of comprehending them, rebelled against them, and re- 
fused to do any thing; choosing melancholy, sulkiness and inac- 
tivity, or my own will. On another occasion being desired to throw 
myself over a steep precipice near the river Avon with the promise 
that if I did so, I should be in heavenly places, or immediately at 
home, I refused to do so for fear of death, and retired from the 
edge of the precipice to avoid temptation but this last was not 
till after repeated experiments of other kinds had proved to me 
that I might be deluded. For I was cured at last, and only cured 
of each of these delusions respecting throwing myself about, &c. 
See., by the experience that the promises attendant upon each of 
them were false. When I had fairly performed what I was com- 
manded, and found that I remained as I was, I desisted from try- 
ing it with any sincerity, and soon left it off. 

I was tempted to do these things very often from hearing the 
voices tell me that my fellow-prisoners were suffering for me, and 
that if I did so-and-so I should relieve them; but at last I was 
warned a change would take place in my situation, and when the 

voices one day said to me, "Mr. is suffering or suffocating for 

you;" another, or the same voice added, "to think of, or to reflect 
on with shame and contrition too/ 1 or words of that kind; then my 
mind began to have peace, and I began to breathe again. I knew 
I had been deceived and when any voice came to order me to do 
any thing, I conceived it my duty to wait and hear if that order 
was explained, and followed by another and indeed I often re- 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 267 

jected the voice altogether: and thus I became of a sudden, from 
a dangerous lunatic, a mere imbecile, half-witted though wretched 
being: and this was the first stage of ray recovery. 

This took place in the cricket season about six months be- 
fore the end of the year 1831, and the consequence of it was, that 
during the day I was released from my fastenings, though not at 
night for a long time after. My limbs being more at liberty, hav- 
ing more exercise, more occupation, more amusement, my health 
and tone of mind soon made rapid advances towards restoration 
and though afterwards I once struck my keeper and one of the 
patients, it was from ample provocation, and not from delusion or 
insanity. From this time, in truth, I needed nothing but observa- 
tion, and not coercion. 

During the time of my greatest infirmities, I also called my 
keepers and others by various names, and some by the names of 
my brothers or sisters, some I addressed as my father; this last 
was either on account of some resemblance in the features or in 
the dispositions, or on account of their age; I also called the keep- 
ers by inspiration, Honesty, Sincerity, Simplicity, Joviality, &c., 
according to their characters though I did not then comprehend 
my own manner of address, and I knew not that I was in a mad- 
house; but after I began to recover from my frightful dream, to 
become alive to the dreadful reality of my position, I understood 
both things and persons to be really what they were, though not 
always, nor for some time; for long after I worshipped one of my 
keepers as the Lord Jesus even a few weeks before my departure 
from Dr. Fox's. 

It is curious, and it is contrary to the theory of the doctors, 
who deprecate all excitement among their patients, that every 
dispute and struggle I had with those controlling me, served to 
strengthen my mind and to dissipate my errors. Particularly that 
occasion on which I struck the keeper Hobbs, upon his attempting 
to collar me and to force me to come and be shaved. I cannot 
recollect accurately whether then I had already begun to doubt 
the truths of Christianity but I had begun to reason with myself 
how often I had been deceived through life in adopting upon trust 
the opinions of others, and in following the fashions and habits 
of society; and I determined, when I was released from confine- 



268 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

ment to do nothing whatever which I could not prove reasonable, 
and among other things, as more consistent with nature and reason, 
I resolved to wear my beard and long hair; I had no sooner come 
to this resolution, than the voices I used to hear taunted me with 
cowardice and subserviency to those around me in not putting it 
into instant execution, on account even of the filthy manner in 
which I was shaved; and I was made to feel, that I was guilty of 
gross ingratitude to my Saviour in not insisting upon my right to 
do this in spite of any opposition that might be made to it. The 
consequence was that I replied in thought to these voices, "we 
will see if it is so," and I was soon after engaged in a desperate 
struggle with the keepers in support of my right, in which one 
of them wilfully dislocated my thumb, and another knelt on my 
belly, and seized my throat to suffocate me into submission. My 
spirits were completely aroused by this affair, and I gained a self- 
confidence, and a liberty of thought for a long time lost to me; the 
absurdity of my Saviour having desired me in such circumstances 
to expose myself to such disgraceful treatment was self-evident, 
and my resolution became the stronger to exercise a great control 
over myself, and cautiously and steadily to resist being led away 
again into any situation of difficulty by these voices. Still, how- 
ever, I fancied the voices were holy, sent to try and to instruct me, 
and that I was bound to respect and pay attention to them; but I 
was no longer afraid of being led into any danger by obeying them, 
though I thought that I might expose myself to ridicule. For this 
reason I was desirous of being placed under observation, and I 
should voluntarily have sought retirement, and have submitted to 
the control of a physician or clergyman, if I had then received my 
liberty; and in this state of mind I continued, in this respect, for 
two or three months afterwards. The reason of this was that many 
of the guidances I received proved themselves by their results to 
be true and reasonable, so that I could not doubt but that they 
were benevolent and divine; but often when I had submitted 
either to the directions of a voice, or to the motions of a spirit to a 
certain extent, I found myself left in the lurch, and unable to 
understand further what I was to do; and this in circumstances of 
great embarrassment, likely to excite much laughter and astonish- 
ment in those with whom I had to do. For instance, I have been 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 269 

often desired to open my mouth, and to address persons in differ- 
ent manners, and I have begun without premeditation a very 
rational and consecutive speech, but in a singular, and as might be 
styled original manner, but in the midst of my sentence, the power 
has either left me, or words have been suggested contradictory of 
those that went before; and I have been deserted, gaping, speech- 
less, or stuttering in great confusion. Conceiving at that time that 
the inspirations I received were true, but that I misunderstood 
them, I imagined that I was to blame, as the voices told me I was, 
through affectation or insincerity, or want of faith; that it was still 
my duty to attend to what I heard; and that if I were in quiet 
circumstances, and in private, I might at length discover the 
mystery of my difficulty in comprehending what I was to do or say; 
but I judged that it was impossible to do so without many failures, 
and that these might expose me to great contempt, I was therefore 
desirous that these failures might not take place in public. The 
letters I wrote from Dr. Fox's asylum will serve as another ex- 
ample of what I mean. I may say that every syllable of these letters 
I saw by illusion on the paper before I wrote them; but many other 
sentences also appeared besides those which I chose; and often 
these sentences made light of or contradicted what went before- 
turning me to ridicule, and that ridicule goading me to anger and 
madness, and I had great labour and difficulty to collect myself 
to seize those that were at all consecutive or not too violent or 
not too impassioned. This was extremely painful. My readers 
will find in these letters a great deal of sense and forcible writing, 
mixed with a great deal of weakness and imbecility; thus the in- 
spirations and guidances I have received have been often good 
and becoming, and therefore I conceive, in the sense in which the 
term is usually employed, divine; often they were defective, and 
much my judgment ought to have rejected, and probably would 
have rejected in calmer circumstances. But I was in a room with 
other madmen continually interrupted by the entrance of one 
servant or another liable to impertinent questions how I was 
getting on with my letters to threats o having the pen and ink 
taken away if I did not get on faster and to have my paper 
snatched up to see what I had written. Oh! my Countrymen! OhI 



CHAPTER XXXIII 



THERE were two or three other delusions I laboured under, of 
which I hardly recollect how I was cured one in particular, that 
I was to lean on the back of my head and on my feet in bed, and 
twist my neck by throwing my body with a jerk from side to side. 
I fancy that I never attempted this with sincerity, because I feared 
to break my neck; and I think I left it off chiefly from being weary 
of attempting it, partly from being fastened down until I had 
grown out of the delusion or some other had supplied its place, 
partly from the fear of being still more confined in bed, as I once 
was, with a strap over my breast. Not long ago I threw myself, 
scarcely thinking of it, into a similar posture, and began throwing 
myself about; when, recollecting myself, it seemed to me as if I 
did it in some degree for relaxation, as a man stretches his limbs 
when yawning, in some degree to promote perspiration, being 
sensible of a dry and feverish state of the skin. But when I was ill 
I did it by command, and with the idea of miraculous benefits 
ensuing. I was also desired to suffocate myself on my pillow, and 
in various ways; this I never could perform, and I gave it up, weary 
of attempting it 

I suspect that many of the delusions which I laboured under, 
and which other insane persons labour under, consist in their mis- 
taking a figurative or a poetic form of speech for a literal one; and 
this observation may be of importance to those who attend to their 
cure. I was led to it at Dr. Fox's and it was very useful to me* 
During the progress of my recovery there, I kept watching minutely 
all my experiences, and my conduct, and that of other patients, 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 271 

comparing their cases with my own, and drawing such conclusions 
as in those painful circumstances I was able: I did this also with 
the desire of being able to remove the delusions of others. If any 
one knew how painful the task of self-examination and of self- 
control was, to which I devoted myself at that time, every minute 
without respite, except when I was asleep, in order that I might 
behave, and with the sincere desire of behaving becomingly; they 
would understand how cruel I felt it afterwards, when I required 
my liberty for the further pursuit of health and of strength of mind, 
to have it denied to me for fear of my doing any person any bodily 
harm. 

Keeping my mind continually intent upon unravelling and 
understanding the mysterious influence I was under, I one day 
saw an old gentleman who had been in China pluck a privet- 
leaf, and declare that it was tea; the same used to smear his face 
with red clay, calling it paint. I thought immediately thus the 
spirit speaks poetically, but the man understands it literally. Thus 
you will hear one lunatic declare that he is made of iron, and that 
nothing can break him; another, that he is a china vessel, and 
that he runs in danger of being destroyed every minute. The 
meaning of the spirit is, that this man is strong as iron, the other 
frail as an earthen vessel; but the lunatic takes the literal sense, 
and his imagination not being under his own control, he in a man- 
ner feels it. In like manner, when I was desired to suffocate myself 
on my pillow, and that all the world were suffocating for me, &c. 
Sec., I conceive, now, that the spirit referred to the suffocation of 
my feelings that I was to suffocate my grief, my indignation, or 
what not, on the pillow of my conscience; that I was not to aban- 
don myself to my feelings, but to control them, as others did theirs 
around me. Here, however, let me observe, that I suspect the 
health of the mind and the health of the body, particularly the 
operation of the lungs, and of the heart, and the state of the blood, 
to be essentially connected. I believe the healthy state of the mind 
depends very much upon the regulation of the inspiration and ex- 
piration; that the direction "animum rege" has a physical as well 
as a spiritual sense; that is, that in controlling the spirit you must 
control your respirations. I will instance, in support of this, the 



272 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

stupid appearance of many deaf people, who usually are unable 
to breathe freely through the nostril, and keep their mouths wide 
open; a habit very common amongst idiots. I will instance, again, 
the stupifying effects of a bad cold. Now the voices I used to hear 
during my illness at Dr. Fox's told me that that state of mental 
perfection they required me to attain to, was dependent upon the 
proper command of my heart and my head, and, if I recollect 
rightly, of my conscience, which I was made to suppose dwelt in 
my bosom. I was repeatedly desired to "keep my head and heart 
together," not to let "my head go wandering from my heart," 
that "if I kept my head and heart together," I should do well; but 
that this third power, which, if I am not wrong, was conscience, 
ought to regulate both, if I would be perfectly happy. I under- 
stood very little of what I heard at the time. But now I conceive 
that the voices when they told me to keep my head and heart to- 
gether, meant me to think on what I was in need of, or desired; of 
those subjects or objects my heart and health dictated to me, since 
the head may be occupied on subjects which are repulsive to the 
heart, or out of time, and out of place, and out of character; as 
if a parent who had a family of children craving for food, were to 
go idling to a fair to look at puppet-shows as if a man who had 
an important appointment to keep, were to lose himself, and all 
memory of it in reading a novel. It is evident, however, that a 
man may keep his attention upon his desires with the thought only 
of gratifying them; and such a man may be of sound mind ac- 
cording to the ordinary sense of the terms, and yet have no thought 
of his relative position in society, or in the creation. Here, then, 
conscience comes into play, to know whether the emotions of the 
heart are just, and how far they ought to be indulged, and re- 
flection taken to allay them; and if I may be allowed to say so in 
a matter many make light of, others may think fanciful I ques- 
tion whether the operations of the conscience and reflection can 
be conducted but through the medium of the lungs filling the chest 
at proper intervals, according to the degree of passion of the mind, 
or of action of the body. Should this be the case, and should a well- 
regulated breathing be essential to bodily health and mental resto- 
rationit is possible, that the effecting of this mechanically even 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 273 

may give much relief. I have certainly found it so and I cannot 
help suspecting that this secret, rudely understood, was known to 
Dr. Fox, or to his servants otherwise why should one of the serv- 
ants have strangled me, at my request, with the strings of my 
waistcoat; why should throttling and strangling when resorted to 
subdue a lunatic; why did one of the servants, with an iron bar, 
keep my head under water in the bath for a long time? And may 
not the virtues of the cold bath and shower-bath in the cure of 
lunatic patients reside principally in this, that they cause such a 
violent pantingsuch a sudden and, I conceive, often even danger- 
ous and improper action of the heart and of the lungs? I cannot 
help thinking that there was in the madhouse of Dr. Fox some 
practical though ignorant apprehension of this truth, and there- 
fore, whilst I give the above figurative interpretations of the de- 
lusion that I was to suffocate myself, I do not positively assert that, 
in this instance, there was no truth in the literal application of it, 
any more than that it was always suggested by the same train of 
idea;* far from it. 

For I recollect during my recovery at Dr. Fox's, I used to place 
myself in the different positions I had formerly occupied, in order 
to retrace my thoughts, and see if I could account for my feelings 
on one of those occasions I sat down in a niche, into which I had 
been fastened, in the bow at the end of the common room. I ex- 
perienced then an extraordinary sensation of suffocation, and 1 
found it was produced by the position of every object and of every 

* To make my ideas more dear, let me sum up my arguments or proposi- 
tions thus: That a healthy state of the mind is identical with a certain regulated 
system of respiration, according to the degree of bodily action; that the exercise 
of reflection or of conscience, in the control of the passions or affections of the 
mind, is concomitant with, or effected by a proper control of the respiration 
quiet when the mind is quiet, accompanied with sobs or sighs when otherwise. 
That the mind and the blood being intimately connected, the health of the 
body depends also on this healthy regulation of respiration, promoting a proper 
circulation and purification of the blood; that, consequently, the effecting 
respiration by mechanical means, without the control of the muscles by thought, 
is profitable to the health of the body, and also to that of the mental faculties, 
although they may not be, at least distinctly, occupied by any ideas; in the 
same way as, if several printing-presses are worked by machinery, it may be 
necessary for the perfect state of that machinery, that all the presses should 
be in motion, although some may have no types under them. 



274 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

line in the room being oblique to my visual organs instead of 
square; and I have no doubt this sensation caused the idea con- 
tinually to haunt me when I was seated in that niche, where I 
passed whole days pressing my nostrils to a wooden ledge, that 
served to support the arms, as in an arm-chair. 

Moreover I have remarked, that when my mind is most dis- 
turbed, I breathe at that time violently and rapidly, and with dif- 
ficulty through the nostrils, and I have observed in the glass, when 
I have been exasperated, my nostrils compressed above and di- 
lated below, and quivering rapidly with the violence of my breath- 
ingsreminding me of a bust I have seen somewhere of Achilles. 
The spirits also which I conceived to speak to me, used to direct 
me to control my breath, and "to breathe gently up one nostril 
down another." I have often found too, that when I am depressed 
or agitated by any passion, a deep-drawn breath will change the 
whole complexion of my thought and the tenor of my desires. 

I am afraid that these details will appear tedious and frivolous: 
but on a subject, on which medical men are evidently so ignorant, 
and, usually, so thoughtless and nearly all others are desperate, 
because they deem it beyond their comprehension, I hope I may 
be excused in entering upon these minute particulars, though 
they are but lucubrations on the operations of a deranged under- 
standingstill that was a deranged understanding. 

The following are further illustrations of the idea that the 
lunatic mistakes a poetic train of thought for the reality. I was 
told repeatedly that such and such persons were my mother, sis- 
ters and brothers, &c. I conceive the idea was spiritual or that they 
resembled them. I was told that I was not in England, and I be- 
lieved it; I conceive, indeed I know* the meaning was, that the 

* In the year 1833, at Sevenoaks, I received early in the morning a letter 
from a Colonel Austen, a magistrate in the neighbourhood, in answer to an 
application I had made the previous evening to him. In it he mentioned, that 
on receiving my note he had immediately left his dinner-table to answer it, 
and that he would take an early opportunity of seeing me. In every respect it 
was such an answer as a magistrate and a gentleman should give to a person 
in my situation, and the first example of kind and immediate attention that I 
had received. The moment I had read it I exclaimed of a sudden, "Now I am 
in England!" and then I recollected and knew the meaning of my former 
delusions. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 275 

treatment I was suffering from the system to which I was sub- 
jected, was unworthy of England. I was told to wrestle with my 
keeper: this I conceived so extraordinary that I hesitated; but the 
spirits told me "they intended me to wrestle with him in civility;" 
and I suppose I was meant to expostulate and remonstrate with 
him. 

I remember, however, that the spirits, or voices of invisible 
angels, as I fancied them to be, used to sing to me at one time, 
"wrestle with Herminet Herbert" (that was the name applied to 
my keeper, Samuel Hobbs); at another I must hope to be excused 
for mentioning it "kiss Herminet Herbert." Both these com- 
mands were to me so extraordinary and unusual, that I could not 
undertake either, until scared by superstitious fear, or cut by 
feelings which I fancied were those of compunction for doubting 
and disobeying the goodness of God, and conceiving that I could 
be wiser than he who ordered me. At last I obeyed, in trust that 
it was my duty to do so, and that good would come of it, though I 
could not understand how. I do not recollect, however, having 
ever kissed the servant, and seldom did I try to do so, because my 
feelings of delicacy were stronger than my fears of bodily harm, 
which did not prevent me from often attempting to wrestle with 
him. Seldom, however, if at all, did I actually wrestle with this 
man, though I did with others stronger than him. I used to seize 
him by the waistcoat to do so, understanding from my spirits that 
it was what he wished me to do; and yet, not finding him meet me 
as if he had any desire to grapple with me, I was usually puzzled, 
and desisted. He was also, though a slight man, of a peevish, 
hasty disposition, more ready to strike than the others, and his 
language was often truly horrible. Perhaps this may have added 
somewhat to my irresolution: but I conjecture that the very fact 
that he was slighter and less powerful than the other servants, 
making him a more reasonable match for me, was the cause that 
I did not persist in wrestling with him, because the acts of lunacy 
are preposterous and unreasonable. 

For this, again, is one species of lunacy, to mistake a spirit of 
humour enjoining an act which is an evident absurdity, for a 
spirit of sincerity, or, as the French say, to take it "au pied de la 
lettre;" as if a father were to say to his child in fun, "Now, run 



276 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

into the puddle/' or, "Now put your fingers into the fire/' or, 
"Now, put yourself into a passion," meaning the very contrary, 
and the child were to take his words as if meant in earnest. So I 
was ordered to throw myself head over heels over stiles to throw 
myself to the right, and left, or flat on the face on the floor or upon 
gravel walks: these forms of thought may have been meant as 
absurdities, for me to do the very contrary: they may also, how- 
ever, have a spiritual meaning, comprised in these words, recol- 
lect yourself remember where you are, what you are about, what 
you want to do, and act accordingly.* 

If there is any guilt in lunacy, and lunacy is not a total depri- 
vation of power to understand and interpret commands of this 
nature, I should say it is here that it is manifested; for it is written, 
"that no man is tried beyond his strength;" and the absurdity of 
such commands as I obeyed, was perhaps proportioned to my de- 
gree of understanding at all times. Of this I am not sure: I used 
to suspect it when I began to recover; and I thought very ill of 
myself, and believed that I had been very wicked; perhaps it was 
so: but, when I was most low-spirited and cast down by these 
thoughts, and had so deep a sense of self-distrust and degradation, 
that perhaps I might never have recovered a sound understanding, 
that is, spirit to claim the respect due to my situation, if that 
state of mind had continued, I was mercifully relieved (to my- 
self it was mercy, to him it was barbarity) by witnessing the gradual 
destruction, and degradation, and exposure of a fine old man, 
who was placed in exactly similar circumstances to mine own. 

I saw him enter Dr. Fox's asylum in every appearance of a 
sound state of mind: I mistook him for a visitor, a friend of one 
of the patients. The rude replies of the servants soon convinced 
me of my error. A fortnight after, the aged gentleman a merchant 
of the city of Bristol besmeared himself over with the red clay 
in the yard, calling it paint, and became the annoyance of every 

* As further examples of this kind, I may mention the case of a very 
powerful man in Mr. Newington's asylum, who told me he was as weak as a 
child he looked like a castle. Another gentleman at Dr. Fox's, on my remon- 
strating with him for tormenting an old Quaker lunatic, who was affected by 
pavor lymphaticus, replied to me "he believed God Almighty had put him there 
to amuse him;" and this he said not in joke, but in sober seriousness. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 277 

being in the common room in which we were sitting. A few days 
more, and he was fastened, as I used to be, in a niche, on a hard 
seat, the whole day long, with a belt, to the wall, and in a straight 
waistcoat, his face red and inflamed, his grey head leaning for- 
ward on his bosom, his eyes unable to meet the look of any other 
servant or patient. Gradually he became more loathsome, and 
when his meals were brought to him he "gobbled" them down 
I can use no other expression with pitiable and revolting voracity, 
without attention to order, to cleanliness without respect to 
any object or person around him. This was a picture to me of 
what I had been; and I said to myself, "Surely, then, this sad state 
may be the necessary effects of the situation in which we are placed! 
Surely the lunatic's conduct, however profane, may receive at 
least extenuation, from the barbarous circumstances in which so- 
ciety connive at his being placed!" and I gathered courage and 
hope. Till then I had accused myself, and I had sickened at the 
thought that I had sacrificed reason and self-control to my gullet 
to the pleasure of eating and drinking the fat meats and the 
sour beer that had been set before me. For at my meals, morning 
and evening, the voices I used to hear flocked about me like bees, 
and every one, in the tones of some relation or of some friend, 
begged of me in turn to refuse a piece of meat for her sake, to 
leave my bread for his sake, and so on. Then, when one voice told 
me to refuse any thing for her sake, another came to desire me 
to eat it for her sake, and I was bewildered. I suppose that I was 
hungry, and that I enjoyed my meals; I could not understand why 
I should be advised to refuse them. The servant stood by me, 
jogging me, offering me morsels, saying, "Gome, Mr. Perceval, 
make haste; why, you won't be done all day." At length, if I 
refused, my meals were taken away or I was rated and scolded, 
and had them forced down my throat: I therefore, at length swal- 
lowed every thing that came within my reach, without compunc- 
tion and without discrimination, and often as if it were very 
humourous to do so: and then I accused myself of selling my soul 
for a sop of bread and tea, or for a slice of bread and mutton of 
sacrificing my immortal happiness for the sensual pleasure of 
guttling; and this, as I then thought, in a glorified body. 



278 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

But now I reason thus whenever I had most to think of, when- 
ever my thoughts and hands were most occupied, I became, I sup- 
pose, nearest to a sound state of mind, and consequently most 
aware of my situation, most distressed at my weakness, and most 
confused at my exposure, yet still in a manner unconscious of these 
feelings; for I am sure that the human mind has a double action; 
that of sense or sensation, and that of acknowledging, noticing, or 
defining its sensations, just as an absent man will walk up and 
down stairs to look for his pen or pencil, and at last find it in his 
hand or behind his ear; just as men, when occupied in thought, 
often rise from their chair and proceed to a table, or to a drawer, 
or to the garden, unconscious of their motion, until in a manner 
they awake, collect themselves, and feel what they wanted. So the 
lunatic is not entirely without sense, but his mind harassed by 
other painful thoughts, and intent upon them, appears insensible 
to the shocking situation in which he is placed. But, it being neces- 
sary to a sound state of mental and moral feeling, that all or that 
many of the faculties of mind and body should be called into play 
at one time, and above all things that the body or members should 
be occupied, when such an occasion arrives, he becomes more 
sensible to his disgraceful and painful position, but without con- 
trol over his feelings or thoughts. So when I was at meals, my 
hands being employed, and when I was to be shaved, having to 
compose my features and person for the operation, having to 
recollect myself, I became more aware of my real position, my 
thoughts being called out from myself to outward objects. I have 
no doubt also that the recollection that I was often deprived of a 
knife, and not allowed to use my own razors for fear I should hurt 
myself, contributed greatly to my mental sufferings. But I could 
not command myself, the trial was too much for me, and I became 
a noisy and gluttonous buffoon, drowning, and flying from, sense 
in boisterous exclamations, and in the hasty devouring of my food. 
If I had been in humaner circumstances, probably this would not 
have been.* 

* The lunatic doctors appear to think that patients do not feel their 
position: now, I know that many lunatics are extremely sensible to ridicule; 
this sensitiveness is, indeed, one of the phenomena of an unsound mind; and 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 279 

But when the voices I heard desired me to refuse such a piece 
of meat for the sake of one friend, to eat such a piece for the sake 
of another friend, they commanded me to act so in the first place 
spiritually, that is, to revolt at eating such food in such a place, 
in such circumstances, served in such a manner; to shew, in eat- 
ing, a sense of my situation, and of my ill treatment; but in the 
second place, to eat in humility and in thankfulness, what was 
necessary for health and maintenance. Thus, persons who are in 
grief often cannot, that is, will not eat, and women when offended 
will leave their meals, shewing a high spirit. Often, also, since my 
confinement, I have felt disposed to leave my food, but I fear for 
my health, and I have swallowed it as it were against myself, think- 
ing on these things; but at other times I have regained self-posses- 
sion, and found my mind at liberty, by pausing and drawing a 
deep breath, sobbing or sighing, as the cloud of former recollec- 
tions has passed over me. 

Thus, lunacy is also the mistaking of a command that is spir- 
itual for that which is literal a command which is mental for one 
that is physical, and so I conceive when I was commanded to kiss 
and wrestle with Herminet Herbert, the intention was to cultivate 
such and such dispositions to him, not practically to put the words 
in execution. 

Why I called this man Herminet Herbert I do not know, 
neither can I explain or define my understanding of the term, only 
I was told on my inquiring of my spirits the meaning of the words 
that I knew it very well, and I then endeavoured to explain them 
thus with reference to the Greek and German languages "Hermi- 
net" the messenger, herald, or interpreter* "herr," the Lord 



I know that lunatics are very much pained and embarrassed by exposure under 
their misfortune, and I suspect that this is common to all. But they are not 
able to bear up against the feeling, and therefore fly for relief to boisterousness 
and impudent boldness, or sink from it into an apathy and passiveness, which 
is supposed to betray absence of feeling, when it really betrays incapability 
to meet such feeling. I have noticed in another volume my having been, during 
the progress of my recovery at Dr. Fox's, completely thrown off my balance by 
the fear of meeting strangers; but it was not until I reflected, that I knew the 
cause of my own silly conduct. 

* The keeper of the key of a door, or a mystery. 



280 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

"bert," I could by no means translate, and the voices told me it 
meant "of hell," and I understood that Herminet Herbert was a 
familiar style by which souls under punishment might term the 
Lord, as a son calls his father "governor," or a debtor, his prison, 
his "palace," or "castle," I have found since, on referring to an 
old dictionary, that the word "herbert," or "/zeer-bert," signifies 
Leader, or Lord of Hosts.* The name, like many of my thoughts 
at Dr. Fox's madhouse, was, or seemed original to me. I had no 
clue to lead to it; other ideas were, I have no doubt, suggested by 
my position, by the manners around me, and by the language of 
this very servant. I believed I was to be dissected alive, and cruelly 
butchered, and often he used to rate me saying, "111 cut your guts 

out," "111 cut your out I" Who would imagine that 

such language was possible from a keeper of a lunatic asylum to a 
gentleman! But so it was; and if my readers will only consider 
how a lunatic is abandoned, and reflect upon human nature, they 
will know how guilty society is, and that these things are only too 
probable. 

I remember, also, that when I was ordered to wrestle with 
Herminet Herbert or to kiss Herminet Herbert, the voices ex- 
plained to me, that I was to take each of these directions in a con- 
trary sense ironically. That is, when I was desired to kiss him, 
I was to wrestle with him, or strike him, when to wrestle with him, 
to kiss him; but I disobeyed, and then I was told I disobeyed 
through cowardice, that I was affecting not to understand and, 
in consequence, losing all patience: at last I knew not which was 
which; and then the voices said, that my understanding became 
confounded through my hypocrisy. Moreover, I often heard the 
command, "Wrestle with such a one, if you will," "Strike such a 
one, if you will," "Do this, or that, if you will;" but, when I became 
more healthy, the form of address ran thus: "Do so and so, if you 
will, be obedient to a spirit of decision or precision," or "be 
obedient to a spirit of mockery and derision," and the like. When 
I discovered this, I became more orderly, supposing that I might 
choose and study in what spirit I might act or behave. 

* Properly, the glory or the brightness of an army. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 281 

I conceive, therefore, that lunacy is also a state of confusion 
of understanding, by which the mind mistakes the commands of 
a spirit of humour, or of irony, or of drollery; that many minds 
are in this state; that, perhaps, this is the state of every human 
mind that it certainly is the state of every mind in certain moods. 
I mean that in the operations of the human intellect, the Deity, 
if not always, yet often intimates his will by thus jesting, if I may 
be allowed to call it so, with his child with his creature; that in 
the misapprehending or perverting of this form of address may 
consist original sin; or that such misapprehension or perversion 
is the first consequence of original sin (if such there be) pervading 
and making false every future deliberation, and conception, and 
action. Hence, I imagine, it is, that those who profess religion are 
often so hypocritical for the true hypocrite is he who, like the 
Pharisee, fancies himself religious and is not. Wherefore, also, 
Jesus companied with publicans and sinners; because amongst 
those who profess least, true and good feeling is often most preva- 
lent. Hence, I imagine, also, arises the great mystery spoken of 
by St. Paul, "That which I would, I do not-that which I do I 
allow not;" "my mind lusteth against the flesh my flesh against 
the spirit;" because the mind of man, fallen from a state of grace, 
thinks in a spirit of humour, as if that spirit were a spirit of truth; 
and when the mind, thinking in a spirit of humour, supposes it is 
forbidden to touch, taste, or handle, then, in reality, nature desires 
the contrary; and when the mind appears to command any thing 
to be done, then, in fact, nature desires it not to be done. Hence 
it is also that we say "We don't care," "It does not signify," "Never 
mind," and the like, in matters which are really of the greatest, 
perhaps of eternal, moment. Certainly, this law of contradiction 
exists, and it has been noticed by other writers besides St. Paul, 
even in its physical effects. By Ovid, somewhere, writing on the 
passion of Love, and by Martial, in an Epigram I must only allude 
to. I guard myself from saying that this is an universal law, lest 
I lead myself or others into error. But do we not know how often, 
as boys at school, we have disobeyed orders, and done things 
merely because they were forbidden do we not know that the 
surest way to make people read a book is to say that they ought 



28s PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

not to do so? Do we not often meet persons of whom it is said, 
that they are of so perverse a disposition, that you have only to 
desire them not to do a thing to make them long to do it to 
request any thing of them as a favour in order that it may not be 
done. I acknowledge I do look upon this as a discovery in the 
operation of the intellectual faculties of much importance, for 
which I am thankful. Others have noticed the fact I have been 
enabled to give a solution of the fact a solution, I suspect, if 
rightly considered, to a great degree, of the mystery of iniquity. 
Sin then is a misapprehension, a shadow, a mockery. 

Those who have the conduct of little children, will find great 
pleasure and benefit, in attending to this rule, particularly if they 
are of a fractious and passionate disposition. Children should be 
respected, not only as our children, but as little temples of the 
eternal spirit and temples in which the operations of the mind 
are more pure, and more orderly in which the moral sense is more 
perfect, than in vessels which have been bandied about in, and 
polluted by the world, and wherein the mental machinery is de- 
ranged, and dogged by disorderly appetites. Servants set over 
them, will order them abruptly to leave their little sports hurry 
them here frighten them there snatch things out of their tiny 
clinging fingers; by doing so, the order of nature is disturbed, time 
is not given or method employed to let their wills chime in with 
those of the person set over them they become cross and ill- 
humoured, crying, passionate, and violent. But I say yield to them 
that they may yield to you watch the moods of their minds, and 
according to their dispositions, or to the humour they are in, play 
with them; in the manner you conduct yourselves to them, play 
with them as a skilful angler will play with a fish that he has just 
struck, and would safely bring to land: is not the prize worthy of 
your attention? 

What more shall I say, lunacy is a confusion of the understand- 
ingbut it is also the emancipation of the mental faculties from 
the control of a natural but often erroneous, that is, already con- 
fused judgment; so that the talents become free which have before 
been cramped, and those discover themselves which were before 
smothered. Lunacy is like drunkenness; only that it is worse and 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 283 

more lasting: and many poets, many painters, many singers, many 
actors, and even orators, have never spoken, acted, sung, designed, 
or written so well as when they have been intoxicated; because 
inebriety overturns the natural judgment, which sets right for 
wrong, sweet for bitter, and with it the sense of many improprie- 
ties, which embarrass speech and action. Now the judgment of 
man was intended, with humour, to control and moderate but 
being sinful, it is liable to spoil every thing by affectation and 
hypocrisy, and to fetter, oppress, and mislead. When the power 
of judgment is taken away, then passion and feeling take the lead, 
and splendid diction, splendid action, splendid delineation fol- 
lows; but such as a sober mind still condemns as needing correc- 
tion, which, however, the critic himself often cannot apply. I 
think, therefore, that by the observation of the operations of the 
mind, under such circumstances, much spiritual and even physical 
knowledge may be obtained, because I am convinced that the 
mind is a piece of excellent machinery. Like to a musical instru- 
ment, whose movements we are yet to discover how to regulate, 
by certain fixed and, if I may call them so without offence, me- 
chanical laws. I am witness that there is a power in man, which 
independent of his natural thought and will, can form ideas upon 
his imagination control his voice and even wield his limbs; 
twice my arm has been raised and moved suddenly, as by a gal- 
vanic force, without my having any intention to do so, that I was 
conscious of. This also is curious, that when I was eating my 
breakfast, the voice about me often said, "If you will do so and so, 
WE will ask for another piece of bread and butter for you;" and 
if I obeyed, without my needing to speak, the servant, after look- 
ing attentively at me, would come and offer me the bread and 
butter. I conceive now, that by my countenance or manner I was 
made to express the desire for more food; but it is a proof that 
the voices I fancied I heard were in some manner connected with 
my well-being and with the operations of my mind; or, rather that 
I was made to fancy that I heard those voices by a power in me, 
intimately acquainted with the operations of my mind. 

On one occasion, shortly before I left Dr. Fox's, as I was leaving 
the house and walking through a back gate, I was desired by the 



284 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

spirit to "lift up my head and open my voice, and see what I 
should see" and I looked up to heaven and yielded my voice to 
the power upon me, and forthwith I uttered horrible oaths and 
blasphemies, so that I was frightened and refused to speak. Again 
I was desired to lift up my head and open my mouth as before, 
and I did so, looking up into the sky, and forthwith I uttered the 
most gross and revolting obscenities, by the influence of a similar 
power, and I again chose to be silent, rather than to obey. I was 
thus cured of my folly that I was to yield my voice up to the control 
of any spirit at hap-hazard, without regard to circumstances, and 
without discrimination, and thus my mind was set at rest in great 
measure from another delusion; or rather, the superstitious belief 
that I was blindly to yield myself up to an extraordinary guidance 
was done away.* 

* Three observations I have overlooked, which may be of importance. 
The first, to prove that there was a method in the mystery of my disorder; the 
second, hi a scriptural; the third, in a medical point of view. 

I. The voices gave the appellation of Henninet Herbert, only to the 
keepers; but several of the patients they called Fitzherbert. 

II. One of the keepers they styled GOD ALMIGHTY, another JESUS, another 
the HOLY GHOST, whether on account of their several characters, or in good- 
humoured and innocent buffoonery, I do not know. One of the patients also, 
a stout, good-humoured old gentleman, was pointed out to me as the TRINITY 
in UNITY, and named also "Benevolence" and JEHOVAH. 

III. My loss of all control over my will, and belief, and imagination, and 
even of certain muscles, was immediately preceded by three successive crepita- 
tions, like that of electrical sparks in the right temple, not on the same spot, 
but in a line, one after the other, from left to right. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 



BEFORE I left Dr. Fox's, I thought I observed that the cause of 
that delusion, whereby the stature of persons appeared to change, 
consisted in my comparing them in the agitation of my spirits, 
and in that weak state of health, solely with the objects around 
them, or in the distance, in the same way as I have often found 
when attempting to draw I have made all the objects in the 
middle distance in fair proportion one with another, but much 
too large to sort with the size I was compelled to give to the objects 
in the foreground, on account of the dimensions of my paper. 
I will not, however, be too positive of the cause being rightly 
stated, though I think it was so; but this I know, I was aware before 
I left Dr. Fox's, that this delusion arose from a defective use of the 
visual organs. This weakness of sight giving also a kind of un- 
substantiality to persons I saw, for their forms seemed to dilate 
and contract, did, I have no doubt, contribute to a delusion I was 
under, that I was surrounded by spiritual bodies and myself in 
such a body not of flesh and bone, and not needing sleep or food. 

Let me observe, that the voices I so often speak of, were mostly 
heard in my head, though I often heard them in the air, or in dif- 
ferent parts of the room. Every voice was different, and each beau- 
tiful, and, generally, speaking or singing in a different tone and 
measure, and resembling those of relations or friends. There 
appeared to be many in my head, I should say upwards of four- 
teen. I divide them, as they styled themselves, or one another, into 
voices of contrition and voices of joy and honour. Those of con- 
trition were, I think all without any exception, on the left temple 



286 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

and forehead; those of joy and honour on the right temple and 
forehead; but on each side of the head, as it were over the middle 
of the eyebrow, two spirits seemed always to sing or speak to a 
measure more quick and more flaunty than the others that on the 
left was, I think, called the spirit of my eldest sister that on the 
right was the spirit of Herminet Herbert. I understood the use 
of these spirits, which were spirits of humour and politeness, to be 
necessary to a holy turn of thought, and that the world did not 
like the use, or understand the use of them. My thoughts flowed 
regularly from left to right, guided by these voices and their sug- 
gestions; and if I turned them from right to left, I was told that 
I was playing the hypocrite. I think it right to mention this 
because it was always so; and though it may appear fanciful, there 
may, nevertheless, lie hid some truth in it connected with the 
nervous system which I cannot venture to explain. Amongst the 
names given to the spirits were those of Contrition, those of Joy, 
of Gladness, of Joviality, of Mirth, Martha (by which I understood 
over-anxiety), and Mockery, of Honesty, of Sincerity, and, amongst 
others, "a spirit of honourable anxiety to do my duty to the best 
of my own satisfaction," which I was told was the spirit of one of 
my sisters the use of such a phrase is evidently humourous, or 
ironical, or satirical. 

The following observation may also not be unworthy of at- 
tention. When I was confined in my straight waistcoat, with my 
arms across my breast, and my feet fastened to the floor, and a strap 
across my belly confining me to the wall, I used to get up, and sing, 
and behave noisily. I used then to consider what was my stimulus 
to action, for often I had no external motive or object, and I found 
it was to get rid of two uneasy sensations in the roof of the mouth 
the one, at the back of the palate, consisted of a dull, heavy im- 
pression, as if made by a thick mucilaginous spittle the other was 
more painful, and about the top of the throat, as if the breath 
came up very fiery, and impregnated with electrical matter. I con- 
ceive it probable, therefore, that nature prompted me to action to 
relieve an over-heated system, and to purify a stagnated state of 
the blood and humours. This was usually on days when I was not 
taken out to walk after dinner. Then I was most boisterous 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 287 

bumping up and down upon my seat, and crying out or singing. 
On one of these occasions I contrived to get out of my bands, 
and I undressed, and ran naked, by order of the voices I heard, 
into a small yard attached to our prison, singing, in Portuguese, 
the following lines, which were inspired to me at the moment. 
I transcribe them as one of the most singular specimens of that 
nature of inspirations that often came upon me. 

Meu amo, ti amo 
Com amore fedele; 
Mas nao posso senao 
Serdesobediente 
As teus ordems, 
Porque os meus amores 
Sao mais fortes 
Que os teus ardores 
Para mim, Para mim, 
Que os teus ardores 

Para mim. 

The translation of these words is as follows: 

My master, I love thee 

With a faithful love; 

But I cannot but be 

Disobedient 

To thy commands, 

Because my loves (or affections) 

Are stronger 

Than thy ardent love 

Towards me, towards me, 

Than thy ardent love 

Forme. 

It was not till the year 1834 that I understood the purport of 
these lines. Since my restoration to liberty "I have pondered over 
many of these things in my heart" with much bitterness of spirit, 
however, and not often in the humble and patient disposition of 
Mary. I did not know, in 1831, that the word amo was a Portu- 
guese noun, signifying "master," but on referring to my diction- 
ary, in 1834, when at Hampton Court, I found it was so. The 
accent, also, which I was obliged, in singing or chanting them, to 



288 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

lay on the word desdbediente struck my classical ear as incorrect, 
wherefore I questioned at the time if the Holy Spirit could prompt 
me to scan falsely the jingle of words also, nao posso senao, was 
then unintelligible to me but the word "ardoresf* I for a long 
time refused to recollect when thinking over the lines at Dr. Fox's. 
This is an instance of what I mean by the power of utterance 
leaving me puzzled how to proceed. When I came to the word 
"ardores" I could not proceed. The voices then taunted and 
jeered me, saying that I knew what the word was, but that I did 
not choose to pronounce it, or to admit the sense of it. I pleaded 
ignorance, and then the word "arvores" which in Portuguese 
meant trees was suggested to me, and was interpreted to me in two 
childish ways one that it meant the gallows trees, on which I was 
to be hung, according to delusions I had in a thousand bodies all 
over the world the other, that it meant some "cherry-trees," which 
the Lord in his goodness had ordered to be planted for me at 
home. 

Thus it would appear, that the Almighty has power to make 
a man utter sentences of a reasonable nature, and words which yet 
he does not comprehend; and therefore, that the gift of tongues 
mentioned in scripture may not be altogether false or unattain- 
able to in these days: also, that what was a reasonable and consecu- 
tive speech or hymn, may have been turned to nonsense and folly, 
on account of the disingenuousness of the instrument made use of 
to utter it at the same time I do not plead guilty to this disin- 
genuousness, neither do I deny it, it is an accusation which was 
often made of me in the spirit, and which I do not understand- 
but whenever I have been unable to comprehend the leadings of 
the spirits upon me, I have been told, that I did not choose to 
comprehend which did not appear to me to be the case, but, that 
I could not comprehend. I was told also that I was insincere, and 
seeking my own glory instead of that of the Lord or afraid to 
confess the glory upon me becomingly before man that I was un- 
simple and that therefore the Lord turned me to ridicule, and 
put me to confusion. 

I recollect amongst other instances of my memory failing me, 
and of accusations being made of me in consequence, in a similar 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 289 

manner, that I one day heard, and was desired to sing, and to apply 
to myself these words: 

I'd be a butterfly born in a bower, 

Kissing all buds that are pretty and sweet 

Here I paused I heard no more, I was desired to open my mouth 
in faith and go on but I could not recollect the remainder of the 
song. Then different spirits suggested to me words, with which 
I was not satisfied, and amongst others 

But I would not be a little idle thing, 
Sitting here all day to do nothing but sing. 

I have to observe, that although I had heard the song "I'd be a 
butterfly" before my illness, I do not recollect ever having com- 
mitted it to memory, or being very familiar with it; therefore to 
have remembered the concluding verses could not naturally be 
expected of me, but would in a manner have been a gift. I bought 
the song since my liberty to see what were the other verses. Many 
persons have the gift of an extraordinary memory they will hear 
a sermon and go away and repeat it word by word. I question now 
whether this is not in consequence of the machinery of the mind 
being in this respect, in them, in perfect order, and whether this 
power is not latent in all men, but disturbed through passion- 
through the mind being ill regulated perhaps through organic 
disease. 

Now all or nearly all the phenomena which I have narrated, 
strange as they may appear, are to some degree or other familiar 
to all men* and such, as I can in a certain degree recollect in 
myself during the whole course of my life. For instance, this power 
of a spirit to control the utterance is daily experienced, though 
not remarked, in what we call a slip of the tongue; where one 

* Shyness is one very common species of LUNACY to which many are pain- 
fully subjected. A shy man will be quite annoyed, imagining the curtain in a 
window is a person looking at him; and often has not power to look up to 
ascertain his error. He is overcome by thinking that if he moves, every eye in 
a room, or a church, will be directed upon him; and though convinced by 
argument that it is not so, still he cannot overcome the impression. A good 
remedy is, to have an honest and serious occupation, and to determine quietly 
to observe others. 



sgo PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

word is put for another, and one letter transposed with another, 
and as the mind by a positive law always thinks on contraries at 
the same time, it almost invariably happens that the word made 
use of by mistake is the contrary to that intended. The universal 
for the particular the affirmative for the negative, and the like. 
(By the same law, voluptuousness and cruelty have been so often 
united in one person.) The degree of error is not the same, but 
the phenomenon is the same the organs of speech are made use of 
without the volition or rather intention of the person speaking. 
This is remarkable, because it would prove the residence in the 
temple of the body, of two distinct powers, or agents, or wills. 

In writing also, the phenomenon I have mentioned of the 
hands being controlled without the will or intention of the person 
writing, often takes place, when one word is written for another, 
and this we call inadvertence, but it is really the effect of the same 
cause not recognised, which became evident to me through the 
state of excitement and weakness I was in, and my faith that it 
was possible. 

Many of the things I have spoken, and many of the things I 
have heard and written, and done in the spirit, I have not under- 
stood for a long time after: and yet, when my understanding has 
perceived their meaning, they have often been quite simple. It 
seems to me, that in the effort to understand, made by a deranged 
mind, the faculties become stupified and confused. 

The following is another remarkable phenomenon, which I 
observed during my illness. When I was fastened down in my bed 
at Dr. Fox's, in the cruel manner I have elsewhere described the 
voices I heard gave me to understand that I was not to sleep that 
as a spiritual body I did not need sleep, and that if I slept, I ran 
a risk of increasing the dreadful lethargy, which rendered me 
unable to resist any degrading or mean thought or feeling pre- 
sented to me. I was to lie awake, and to endeavour to understand 
the directions given to me. Weary at length, and unable to com- 
prehend these commands, I sought for sleep, and recollecting what 
my mother had formerly told me of my father, that he used when 
he found himself unable to obtain rest, to keep continually count- 
ing to himself, I tried the same. But then the power of thinking 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 291 

numbers for myself was taken from me, and my mind or life lay 
in my body, like a being in a house unable to do any thing but 
listen to the sound of others talking around him, and voices like 
the voices of females or fairiesvery beautiful very small, and 
with a rapidity I cannot describe, began counting in me, and en- 
tirely without my control. First, one voice came and counted one, 
two, three, four, up to ten or twenty then a second voice took up 
the word twenty, and kept repeating twenty twenty twenty 
whilst another after each twenty called one two three four, and 
so on till they came to thirty then another voice took up the word 
thirty, and continued crying thirty thirty thirty, whilst a voice 
called out after each thirty one two three four, and so on till 
they came to forty, and thus the voices within me proceeded, 
dividing the labour between them, and so quickly, that I could 
not possibly pronounce the numbers. 

I conceive from this and other experiences that the mind acts 
by beautiful and delicate machinery, which is disorganized in all 
men by sin and violence by perverseness. That we have no idea 
of the beauty of diction and of conversation of the grace and 
majesty of action of the perfection of the mental faculties which 
might be attained to, if more liberty were given in early life to the 
fancy, and if mankind chose to obey the laws of nature, or the 
guidance of God. I hope and expect to see such a state arrive in 
this world, or in a future life but now we will not suffer the glory 
of God to be manifested in us; we will not allow God to dwell 
with us. 

But our whole system of education is wrong; the mind is over- 
tasked, overstrained, and cramped, or allowed to lie waste and run 
into riot; and healthy exercise and behaviour are not sufficiently 
studied and attended to. 

I ought to remark before I leave this subject, that the voices 
I heard accused me of crimes I had never committed, "they laid 
to my charge things that I knew not" I was terrified by the charge 
of having wilfully connived at the drowning of an old woman in 
London, and vilified by the supposition that, being not the son of 
my real mother, but the adopted son of a poor American woman, 
named Robinson, I had denied her on account of her poverty. 



CHAPTER XXXV 



WHEN I came to Mr. Newington's, therefore, I had recovered 
to a great extent from many of my delusions, and whatever they 
were that remained, they no longer rendered me an object of 
alarm, or a person from whom any danger was to be apprehended. 
The back of my enemy was broken; that superstitious fear was 
done away with, which made me suppose that I was to act blindly 
according to the inspirations I received, without exercising my 
judgment; my readers will therefore understand the daim to 
liberty which I made before one of my brothers at that time, 
though still confessing myself lunatic. I knew I was still of un- 
sound mind, because I did not comprehend the nature or the 
meaning of the voices I heard continually, or the visions which I 
saw; and I had not resolution then entirely to disregard them. 
But the intimations I then received were not of a violent kind; 
but set before me the actions and manners of a life beautiful 
and holy. 

At this time I found on many occasions that I could not speak; 
I did not know why: I was compelled to write my wishes to my 
brothers, and a day or two after my arrival at Mr. Newington's, 
I was obliged to write, finding my voice fail me, and I wrote in the 
power of a spirit (I have the paper still by me), these two sentences: 

"I intend to write to my mother for leave to go up to London, 
and to remain here afterwards if she think proper." 

"It is for the sake of medical attestations, of persons who have 
known me formerly, to my actual state of mind and body." 

But after I had been a few days enjoying the tranquility of 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 295 

my private room at Mr, Newington's, (ohl how delightful that 
tranquility then was to my jaded and exhausted and feverish 
mind) I found on examining into the cause of this phenomenon, 
when I had more self-possession, that my voice was overwhelmed 
by my feelings; grief checked my utterance, and prevented me 
from speaking. I found then that I was choked, as it were, or suf- 
focated; and that if I would discourse on the treatment I had 
suffered from, or on any subject connected with my misfortune, 
nature refused to do so, except by broken sentences, and with 
much broken speech; I might call it stuttering, only that it was 
not confused, but difficult, and repeated, articulation of syllables. 
This is still often the case when I think of those things; and now, 
as formerly, if in conversation with another, I have been hitherto 
obliged to force nature, and to speak with pain, not only because 
I am loath to show my feelings, but because my manner, my utter- 
ance, my diction might alarm, and cause a suspicion of my sanity. 
I consider this one of the cruellest trials of the lunatic that on 
then: recovery, by the formality of society, they are not allowed to 
utter their sentiments in the tone and manner becoming their 
situation; but if they do, they run a risk of having then* dreadful 
and deleterious confinement protracted the world, the magis- 
trates, and physicians, who are their judges, considering them- 
selves of sound mind, in expecting from such as have been insane, 
and are sensible of their misfortune, the same tone, gesture, 
cadence, and placidity, that meets them in persons who have not 
been through any extraordinary vicissitudes. 

I was at this rime very weak; my nerves had been very much 
shaken inwardly I had been much exasperated; and the cold 
shower-bath, at that inclement season of the year in Dr. Fox's 
madhouse, had given me the most dreadful and acute pain I can 
remember having ever suffered from, and that in the head; and 
during the remainder of the day my head seemed to burn with 
fever as if pricked by a crown of thorns: in vain I lay down on my 
sofa, and covered my face with a handkerchief, for relief restless- 
ness and anxiety continually agitated me, and I began to fear for 
my life, or that I should be driven mad again; to entertain sus- 
picions that Dr. Fox had a design to drive me mad again, that I 



294 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

might not be believed when I complained of what I had endured 
and seen. In this state it is not wonderful that when I came to 
Mr. C. Newington's, I found even the ticking of a watch painful 
to me. A fortnight's comparative peace, however, soon made me 
recover tone and strength. 

To say that I am surprised at the ignorance of a lunatic doctor, 
would be to say that I am astonished the night should be dark. 
But how is it that that ignorance should so long have been allowed 
to dupe the world? They seem utterly ignorant of the sufferings 
of nervous patients; to whom although loud noises shake and 
terrify them, and make their pulses leapslight noises, such as the 
creaking of shoes, the crackling of a newspaper, the hemming and 
coughing of a vulgar servant, and the like, are sources of real pain, 
and maddening excitement and irritation. They are exposed, 
however, without the slightest thought to all, and worse than 
these; and it is a hard case, when a man desires to better the cir- 
cumstances in which he or a friend is placed, in order to effect a 
cure more speedily, to find reasonable desires thwarted by the 
ignorance of these men through the implicit confidence placed 
in them. 

Having at length, with difficulty, succeeded in obtaining a 
private sitting-room, I soon reaped the advantage of my compara- 
tive quietness. Here it was that I discovered one day, when I 
thought I was attending to a voice that was speaking to me, that, 
my mind being suddenly directed to outward objects, the sound 
remained but the voice was gone; the sound proceeded from a 
neighbouring room or from a draft of air through the window or 
doorway. I found, moreover, if I threw myself back into the same 
state of absence of mind, that the voice returned, and I subse- 
quently observed that the style of address would appear to change 
according to the mood of mind I was in; still later, whilst con- 
tinuing these observations, I found that although these voices 
usually came to me without thought on my part, I had sometimes 
a power, to a certain extent, to choose what I would hear. I had 
observed at Brisslington that the thunder, the bellowing of cattle, 
the sounds of a bell, and other noises, conveyed to me threats, or 
sentences of exhortation, and the like: but I had till now looked 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 295 

upon all these things as marvellous, and I had been afraid to 
examine into them. Now I was more bold; having discovered so 
many deceits that had been practised on me; and being more 
desperate, and even reckless of ever being able to attain to an 
understanding of the guidances which I had imagined that the 
Lord had sent to me. 

I discovered, and I think very nearly in the manner I have 
stated above, the nature of this delusion; and, prosecuting my 
examinations still further, I found that the breathing of my nos- 
trils also, particularly when I was agitated, had been and was 
clothed with words and sentences. I then closed my ears with my 
fingers, and I found that if I did not hear words at least I heard 
a disagreeable singing or humming in the ears and that those 
sounds, which were often used to convey distinct words and sen- 
tences, and which at other times seemed to the fancy like the 
earnest cries, or confused debating, or expostulations of many 
spirits, still remained audible; from which I concluded that they 
were really produced in the head or brain, though they appeared 
high in the air, or perhaps in the cornice of the ceiling of the 
room; and I recognised that all the voices I had heard in me, had 
been produced by the power of the Deity to give speech to sounds 
of this nature produced by the action of the pulses, or muscles, or 
humours, &c. in the body and that in like manner all the voices 
I had been made to fancy outside of me, were either formed from 
or upon different casual sounds around me; or from and upon 
these internal sounds. 

Strange as it may appear, I believe that there are few persons 
living who have not, during the course of their lives, been aware 
of this phenomenon; I suppose there is scarcely a child breathing 
that has not, at some time or other, imagined that he has been 
called by name when no one was present. Often, when a lad, sit- 
ting alone, by the side of a pond, with my rods and lines, I have 
heard my name loudly called from the surrounding trees, and, 
looking round, I have said, to myself, "I have mistaken another 
sound for the calling of my name;" or, I have said to one of my 
sisters, if she was by, "How like that was to my name." But the 
truth is, there is no mistake the person called does really hear his 



296 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

name called by a power the Deity has of causing any sound to 
appear to articulate or speak. But when our blood is in healthy 
circulation, and the mind and body healthily occupied, we throw 
off the impression, and cast it aside, and take no further notice 
about it. 

My readers will observe that I make mention of a power to 
clothe any sounds with articulation, as residing in man, not under 
his control, and actively developed in certain men. It is obvious, 
therefore, that as this power can give speech to sounds which have 
no shape, if I may so call it, so it may change the shape of speech, 
or make a man hear different words from those addressed to him. 
I suppose it to have been the double action of the secret power to 
control man's utterance mentioned in the last chapter, and of this 
power to change the nature of sound, that caused the miracle of 
the confusion of tongues, if there is any truth in that story. The 
Babylonians did not only speak differently to one another, but 
they heard other words than were spoken, according to the will 
of Him who made the ear, and can destroy that and man together. 
We often find now, in society, a young man will address another, 
and the person addressed will tell him he used such a word, which 
the other will deny, affirming that he used another; but all present 
will declare that he used the wrong word, and yet he will swear 
and protest and become angry, declaring that he used the word 
he intended. I have little doubt now, but that often this arises 
from a juggle upon the senses, such as I have described. That the 
young man has, indeed, used the word he intended, but that the 
ears of the bystanders have been made to hear another. It seems 
difficult to account for the obstinacy with which the mistake is, 
on many occasions, denied by any other supposition; for the very 
fact that it also repeatedly happens that the wrong word has been 
used in mistake, and that the person who spoke acknowledges his 
error, renders the stubbornness of denial at other times the more 
striking and inexplicable. 

In a former volume* I have mentioned, that when an old luna- 
tic patient came to lie down near me, in Dr. Fox's madhouse, upon 
some chairs, and began reading a newspaper, I heard not only the 

* Pace 167 of this edition. GJB. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 297 

news that he mumbled to himself, but other words from his lips, 
conveying spiritual advice or suggestions. The sounds formed by 
the opening and shutting of the lips, and by the action of the 
tongue and breath in thus reading low to himself, were the foun- 
dation of this speech whereby the Deity then caused me to be 
addressed. For I must observe, the sounds usually clothed with 
speech are not always loud sounds, but minute and intense, and 
generally so; but, by comparison and by resemblance, they suggest 
the ideas of shouting, crying out, laughing, bewailing, weeping, 
expostulation, and the like, and the effect is very beautiful, ex- 
tremely delicate, and to a sensitive frame of mind enchanting; so 
that I would willingly be able to lead an idle life, to enjoy the 
delirium of happiness and joy produced by these sounds, which, 
however, are delightful only so long as the mind conceives itself 
an object of special favour and patronage from the Deity, but 
which still convey consolation, and strength, and confidence with 
them, when they are accompanied with the impression of fear and 
of suffering from the Almighty's wrath; or charged with his im- 
precations, and menaces, and threats of tortures. 

I attribute the hearing and fancying that we speak with others 
in our dreams to the same causes as the above, and I dare say many 
of the ancient auguries are to be explained in the like manner; 
for instance, that of the beam of the ship Argo I conjecture that 
the augur who consulted this oracle was made to hear directions 
of different kinds in the creakings and strainings of that beam. 
Perhaps, also, the many Eastern fables of birds talking, &c, &c., 
may be derived from a more repeated experience of these effects 
in Eastern climes, where not only the imagination is more vivid, 
but the population are more ignorant, timid, and superstitious, 
and exposed to greater vicissitudes. 

During my stay at Ticehurst, one of the judges, who had been 
trying a case of highway robbery, in charging the jury, very wisely 
warned them against putting too much faith in the evidence of 
the prosecutor, who swore to the identity of the prisoner, and who 
had been very much terrified. The evidence of a person to iden- 
tity, whose mind at the time of recognition is disturbed by fear, 
or any other excitement, is certainly not to be depended upon; for 
fear is a great unsettler of the understanding, and bodily trials 



298 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

predispose the mind to be unsettled. I have found that whenever 
my bodily health has been deranged, particularly whenever my 
stomach has been affected, I have been more than usually troubled 
by these fancies, particularly if at the same time, through sluggish- 
ness or through cold, I have not been breathing through my nos- 
trils, or drawing deep breaths. The ancient prophets, also, and 
the first Christians, particularly the apostles, were men who went 
through severe exercises of fasting, watching, and prayer, by the 
latter of which the imagination is excited, and the mind fatigued 
and exhausted. St. Peter saw the vision which was to teach him 
to receive the Gentiles, whilst fasting on the top of a house, where, 
through weakness, he fell into a trance; such men being fishermen 
also, and therefore prone to superstition and to believe in wonders, 
were likely to see visions, and to hear warning voices. So, also, 
St. Paul, when terrified, being deprived of his sight by the light- 
ning. The mind was prepared for receiving the commands sup- 
posed to be divine, by the castigation of the stomach, with which 
the nerves of the brain are so intimately connected, and by terror. 
In these days, and in this nation, probably all these inspired per- 
sons would have been consigned to the madhouse, as it is probable 
Ezekiel was by his nation, of which the Spirit forewarned him;* 
and in these days all these phenomena are actually classed by 
physicians in medical works under specific names, as diseases of 
the sight and of the hearing. Mr. C. Newington, I am shocked to 
say, did not hesitate to tell me, in a conversation that I had with 
him, in which I alluded to Ezekiel, that he should treat such a 
person as an insane patient; and, profane as his ideas were, I con- 
clude he would have been justified in doing so by all sects but one, 
from the total neglect of any precautions against the power of 
such a man being abused, on the part of the Church of England 
and of all the Christian communities, except the Society of 
Friends. Let the clergy prove their consistency, I decline the task; 
but I see either that Faith must be made shipwreck of, or that 
FIDELITY must be much suspected. 

Now I find that augury was a science studied by the Romans, 

* Ezekiel iv. 8. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 299 

and that they sent their youth to acquire it of the Etruscans; I 
find also that the Jews had a college of prophets I find also that 
the gifts of the primitive Christians caused at first confusion 
among them, and that they required much reproof to bring them 
to order. I find also that the Romans believed that lunatics were 
able to foretell future events I am told that in the East, they are 
looked upon as inspired persons. In reference also to what I have 
above declared, that I have often spoken and written sentences 
the meaning of which I did not at the time comprehend and could 
not apply I recollect having heard in 1829, fr m a gentleman of 
the name of Meyers, a converted Jew protestant, then a minister 
of the Church of England, that the Jews had a tradition that the 
prophets of old did not understand fully what they wrote. This is 
hard to understand by those who have not experienced it. Where 
is the boast of the Protestant religion where is liberty of con- 
science, if the lunatic doctor is allowed to be supreme judge over 
his patients in these matters, when lunatic asylums supply the 
place of the Inquisition, and in a form so dreadful? 

Here, where we boast so much of freedom, in matters of re- 
ligion, which is of all things the chief we are really slaves. Slaves 
to opinion, slaves to custom, slaves to power. No church, truly 
free, could submit to the reformed system of bishop-making. The 
Church is deprived of her rights and privileges by the very au- 
thorities to which they are entrusted and instead of Christians 
assembling together to be taught of God, as THEY profess to believe 
they might be, one or two clergymen are set above the whole 
congregation they preach doctrines which are often contradictory 
to Scripture, and if any members of the church were to rise even 
to question the doctrine, they would be silenced, seized, ejected, 
and taken before the magistrate. They who gain a livelihood in 
the name of the Bible, by the exercise of commonplace natural 
abilities, and the display of a refined classical education, knowing 
no other authority than that of having been ordained by the 
bishop and presented by their patron, and confessing no other 
powers of mind or sources of enlightenment than other men enjoy, 
will necessarily put down those who have or lay claim to authority 
of another kind, and who possess an enlightening power within 



300 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

them, and faculties which they acknowledge are not of themselves, 
but gifts from above. 

If, then, the Christian religion be true, and if the miraculous 
gifts formerly boasted of by the Church be yet at hand, for the 
faithful to lay hold of, how can we expect such faith to show itself, 
or such gifts to be exercised, when the ministers of the church 
themselves point, as it were, to the doors of the madhouse, and 
open wide those portals to receive them who too simply receive 
the word of the Scriptures, out of which they are taught. Single- 
hearted people, recollect this whatever true religion may be re- 
ligion with the world is a play and a farce; and ye, who are the 
underlings, must not carry this play too far outstripping the 
piety, and disturbing the interests of your superiors. 

The tones of the voices I used to be made to fancy that I heard, 
were often like the tones of angels, very beautiful and honest, and 
usually musical, and singing rhymes or verses. In this respect my 
former habits were connected with my malady for I am very fond 
of music and even before my illness, I could sit and enjoy in my 
imagination the music of the most brilliant orchestra or bands. 
Since my illness I have once or twice dreamt airs of music, but I 
do not understand writing notes. These voices were also often 
very pathetic, sweetly persuasive and seducing, but I had at times 
a stubborn, perverse and spiteful will not to obey them. Some- 
times they appeared to address me jocularly sometimes joyfully 
sometimes enigmatically. I will give a few of the forms of speech 
addressed to me and put into my mouth, below: 

The will of Jehovah the Lord is supreme, 

He must be obey*d, and thou shalt worship Him; 

Come up to heavenly places, you, &c. &c. fee. 

Keep rising keep rising to heavenly places, 
In the power of Louisa's glory. 

I am risen to heavenly places 

In the power of the Lord Jehovah. 

I am the lost hope of a noble family I am ruined I am ruined I 
am lost I am undone but I AM the redeemed of the Lord I am the re- 
deemed of the Lord Jehovah-gireth who is true to His word, and His 
saints love it well. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 301 

The time of the trial of the time of the trial, 
And the trial of the time of the trial of the time, 
And the trial of the time of the time of the trial. 

These puzzling and intricate words, referring to the profitable 
use made of our time, by successive reflection and action, &c., I 
heard in Dublin, under horrible impressions of divine wrath 
and tortures, if I did not comprehend them or use my talents 
profitably. 

I was threatened with many cruel punishments "to be drown- 
ingboiling alive suffocating in darkness for ever and ever and 
ever to be dissected alive to be crucified" 

To be hacked and hewed, 
And manaded and brewed 
In a manner most distressing; 

to have to submit to these and the like horrors from everlasting to 
everlasting, without hope or fortitude, or power to meet and 
endure them without shameful cowardice and terror, and dreadful 
cries and blasphemies. 

I am a lunatic, but not as I think. 

I am a hypocrite, but not as you think. 

I was desired never to say, 

I would if I could, and I could if I would; 
I will if I can, and I can if I will; 

that it was hypocrisy but to think and speak thus: 

I could if I would, and I would if I could, 
I can if I will, and I will if I can. 

And I was given to understand that all men's thoughts run in one 
of those two forms, distinguishing the dissembler from the resolute 
man; and also* thus: 

It will be so, and it won't be so, 
It shall be so, and it shan't be so. 

That is, that it depended on the state of a man's mind and 
dispositions, whether his deeds would be acceptable before God 



302 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

and he happy in contemplating the nature of the Deity in another 
world, 

M *s spirit of honourable anxiety to do your duty to the best 

of your satisfaction, bids you to pause for a reply. 

Obedience is better than sacrifice, and sacrifice than obedience. 

I'm doing my duty, but not as I think. 

Do your duty and have your greed taken from you. 

Do your duty and have your greed too. 

Do so-and-so, but not if you think not proper. 

Impenitent hypocrite who are you now? 

Herminet Herbert, come to my room, and save me from my melan- 
choly doom and destiny. 

Bl sted hypocrisy, go from my heart, And cleanse me from my 
melancholy doom. 

Victoria, victoria, the victory's wonl 

I am joyful, cheerful, happy, grave and gay, 

In the knowledge of the LORD my REDEEMER. 

Be simple and civil, and all shall be well, 
But be not an insolent whoreson rebel 
To the best of good masters but 
Be sober, and silent, and vigilant too. 

CHRIST HALLELUJAH! is your cue 
CHRIST HALLELUJAH! is for you 
If you'll prove faithful to your cue- 
Not otherwise. 

Keep looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of your salvation oh! 
keep looking to Jesus! 

I will conclude this chapter with the lines of Byron, changing 
a few words to suit my ideas. 

OUR LIFE is TWOFOLD. FANCY hath its own world, 
And a wide realm of wild REALITY, 
And dreams in their development have breath; 
And tears, and TORTURES, and the touch of joy. 
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts, 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 303 

They take a weight from off our waking toils; 

they speak 

Like Sibyls of the future; they have power 
The tyranny of pleasure and of pain. 
They make us what we were not what they will 
And shake us with the vision that's gone by, 
The dread of vanished shadows are they so? 
Is the past NOT all shadow? WHAT ARE THEY? 
Creations of A SPIRIT which can mould 
Substance, and the soul's presence occupy 
With creatures brighter than have been, and give 
A grace to forms which doth outvie all flesh. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 



WHEN I had been thus far freed from my delusions, and de- 
livered from a blind and superstitious respect for the mental phe- 
nomena by which I had been hitherto influenced and misguided 
the voices directed me to declare that I was of sound mind, and 
reproved me as acting with false humility if I did not do so; and 
in one sense I might have claimed to be considered of sound mind, 
inasmuch as whilst examining the phenomena I have here at- 
tempted to describe, I was on my guard against doing any thing 
that could endanger others or myself; and I desired to do nothing, 
which I had not a right to do, but to pursue strictly that course of 
life most likely to restore to me health of body, through freedom 
of exercise; and with health of body, freedom and health of mind. 
But I now no longer obeyed their word, and I was so scrupulous, 
that I could not seriously claim to be considered of sound mind 
so long as there was one phenomenon remaining, the faithfulness 
of which I had not tested, and the source of which I had not dis- 
covered. I have mentioned that I used to see visions; these visions 
were sent to me, as I imagined, to guide my conduct and that of 
others; and I was often put to great pain of mind, being invited 
to attend to these visions as a guidance and as a pleasure; which 
I found became broken and confused; by reason, as I was accused, 
of my want of ingenuousness, or of my presumption, or of other 
sinful dispositions in me; because I was a simpleton, or because, 
instead of being tranquil through faith, my mind was disturbed 
by anxiety. Had I been at liberty I might very soon have brought 
one of these visions to a test, but being confined I adopted this 
plan. My youngest brother lost a favourite terrier bitch, and when 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 305 

I heard of it I was grieved; then being confined in a lunatic asylum, 
with no manly occupation, this like many other petty occurrences, 
took great possession of my thoughts; I wished my brother to 
recover the dog, and it was suggested to me that if it was lost or 
stolen, the place at which it was lost, stolen, or kept might be made 
known to me if I sincerely desired it, in a vision. Soon after this 
I saw a vision of an inn and a turnpike-gate, and I was made to 
understand, that such a place was connected with the loss of the 
dog; I wrote to my brother then a description of the places as seen 
in the vision; supposing that he would recognise them, having 
been there, or having seen them in his neighbourhood. He replied 
that he had no recollection of such a place. From this I knew that 
I had been deceived and concluded that this species of mental 
phenomenon also was not to be considered as an unerring guide. 
About the same time, moreover, I discovered the source of this 
kind of delusions or rather the means by which they are pre- 
sented to the spirit. One day I entered a dark closet in which there 
was opposite the door a small opening to give light, and in it two 
or three upright bars. I gazed a short time unconsciously at this, 
and turning to the left, I saw to my astonishment a window or 
opening in the dark wall which I had never observed before. 
Recovering from my surprise I found that what I saw was not real 
but visionary, and then reflecting, I found that the image formed 
on the retina of the eye, by the light from the opening on which 
I had gazed upon entering this dark chamber, appeared by an 
ordinary law of nature, thrown out upon the wall which was in 
shadow, to which I afterwards turned. In the same way as if any 
person gazes on the sun he will see several green and blue suns 
floating in the air around him. I drew from this the following 
inferences, that neither when I had seen persons or ghosts about 
me neither when I saw visions of things neither when I dreamt 
were the objects really and truly outside of my body; but that 
ghosts, visions, and dreams are formed by the power of the Al- 
mighty, in reproducing figures as they have before been seen, on 
the retina of the eyeor otherwise to the mind or by arranging 
minute particles in the visual organs, so as to form a resemblance 
or picture of these figures or by combining the arrangement of 
internal particles and shades, with that of external lines and 



306 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

shades, &c., so as to produce such a resemblance and then making 
the soul to conceive, by practising upon the visual organs, that 
what it perceived really within the body exists without side, throw- 
ing it in a manner out, as the spectre is thrown out of a magic 
lantern. 

I have said that these visions are presented to the mind through 
the retina of the eye or otherwise, because it is the spirit that seeth; 
the eye is merely an organ for communicating impressions from 
without to the spirit. Often when observing objects around me 
in the room, I have at the same time seen miniatures of friends, 
or other small pictures, as it were, in my loins or other parts of my 
body; and any person of a lively imagination, if he chooses, may 
fancy horses, churches, houses, or children running with their 
hoops, behind him, whilst he is looking to the front. For these 
reasons I do not think the retina of the eye the necessary instrument 
for the perception of visions. 

I have seen very beautiful visions both in my sleep and when 
awake, which I have alluded to in another volume, and in which 
figures, endowed with great majesty and decorum, and of ex- 
quisite grace and beauty, were combined in postures, easy, elegant, 
and delightful, and in actions of refined voluptuousness; were I to 
call it sensuality or debauchery, I should not convey the idea of 
holiness of innocence, and of honest merriment, or which these 
forms were the expression. Neither do the works of any artist that 
I have yet seen, excepting a few of the ancient statues of Venus, 
Apollo, and busts of Jupiter, manifest their character. These 
phantasms of silvered and venerable age, and of youth of both 
sexes, "odiosa multa delicate jocoseque facere videbantur"* 

I am not sure whether it is lawful to mention these things; 
and whilst I unveil them with reverence, I call to mind the verse 
of Orpheus, 



and the words of St. Paul: "I knew a man once how that he was 

* Cornel Nep. Alcibiades. 

f To whom it is right I will speak. Close the doors against the profane. GJB. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 307 

caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words, which it is 
not lawful for a man to utter." 

There is a natural life and an eternal life there are things 
carnal and things spiritualit does not follow that things seen in 
the spirit are to be practised in the flesh. Nevertheless, it may be 
that we do not understand that liberty to which the Gospel pro- 
fesses to call us. 

Had I been, or were I master of my own faculties, when I be- 
held these things, I might be ashamed to allude to them in a 
country where the worship of Juno and of Vesta, of Pallas and of 
Diana, so much prevails above that of other attributes of the 
Deity; but, although they may betray the natural temperament or 
disposition of a constitution which the severity of the religion and 
moral tone of my country curbed and extinguished, I had no 
choice or control but to see what was brought before me. That 
which I have before beheld, however, I can faintly and indistinctly 
recall, and I can refuse these ideas by turning to other occupations, 
though, at times, in spite of all my efforts, they will still haunt 
me. I think it probable that they are common to all men, but that 
the world generally reject them, being taught so to do, and fear- 
ing God, or the accuser. 

At times these figures, thus grouped together, appeared white, 
like ghosts at times, coloured, like the human flesh the substance 
of them was as of flame, and such that they might be imagined 
capable of incorporation with those who gazed upon them. At 
the time that I first saw them, I was very desperate overwhelmed 
by a sense of degradation of degradation from the high calling 
of a Christian, and from the glories offered by the religion of 
Jesus Christ below the station of the beast of the field. I "was be- 
ginning to awake from my delusions, and I was enraged and dis- 
gusted at having been deceived. I spoke to myself thus: "I am 
cast out of heaven, I have been disgraced by the Almighty no 
temporal king has dishonoured me and turned me to ridicule; the 
King of kings the Lord of Lords the Ruler of the universe has 
despised me, from whose presence I cannot flee to whose omni- 
present court of Holy Spirits I have been exposed." Shameless 
from having been put to shame, out of revenge and out of de- 



308 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

spondency I almost ceased to endeavour to resist any temptation, 
and gave myself up to every low, grovelling, base, often savage 
feeling and thought that came upon me. I had no respect no 
reverence. I attacked every subject, sacred and profane. I mut- 
tered, "I will burst into the sanctuary, and at any risk, at any loss, 
unveil this being whom we call God, and discover the nature of 
him we worship as the Divinity; till I know him I dare not at- 
tempt to serve him." In these days first, females came to me with- 
out attire; I speak of them as if they were, for so they seemed to be 
spiritual beings deities perfect and lovely. My mind was si- 
lenced by their delicacy, their modesty, their winning beauty; and 
I slowly relinquished those resolutions, soothed by the persuasive- 
ness of their appearance, in which appeals to my fears and to my 
honour often made me only the more stubborn. I braced up my 
mind also to courageous and virtuous efforts, in hopes of still being 
worthy of conversation with such as these who deigned to come to 
me. I recollect when one of these creatures of flame, the express 
image of a female of great beauty, married to one of my friends, 
appeared to descend from heaven unto me, when I was lying on the 
grassy bank in my wretched prison-yard, and uniting her spirit 
with my person, filled me with comfort. "Surely," I thought, 
"she is praying for me, and her prayers are heard, and her Spirit 
is living in me." I was then, perhaps, bordering upon phrensy or 
upon melancholy madness, and thus the Almighty condescended 
to heal by the imagination that which, by tricks on the imagina- 
tion, he had wounded, broken and destroyed. 

But to return to the physical causes of these beautiful illusions. 
Let me observe, that within the eye there is a phosphoric light 
which produces shades of more or less intensity, and which is 
sometimes white, sometimes of the colour of flame, sometimes, 
also, red. Besides this, there are often black spots in the eye, 
whether they arise from the bile, or from defective vision, I do not 
know. By the combination and methodical disposition of these 
regions of light and shade within the eye, thosfe forms were pro- 
duced to my mind which by illusion appeared to be outside of 
me. That this phosphoric light exists no one will doubt, who 
recollects that in dreams he sees day, and sunshine, and colours of 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 309 

every description these could not be produced in the chamber 
of the imagination without the presence of light or fire of some 
kind. But when I was at Dr. Fox's, tied down in my bed, in the 
dark y and contentiously thinking within myself replying to the 
voices about me the motions of thoughts within me caused my 
eyes to flash frightfully with fire, and this often accompanied with 
sharp pain I call this light or flame phosphoric, because it appears 
of a phosphoric nature, and I have been told that French surgeons 
have discovered phosphorus predominating in the brain of luna- 
tic patients. 

Thus I account for many of the pictures I have had shown to 
my mind only cautioning my readers that whilst I venture to ex- 
plain the means whereby these phenomena are produced, I do not 
question the presence of the intelligent power that made use of 
those means. 

An example of this kind of vision occurred when I was at 
Brisslington, working in the garden among some currant-bushes 
a female form, without habiliments, rose from the ground, her 
head enveloped in a black veil. I was told it was my eldest sister, 
and that if I chose she should rise up entirely, and address me 
unveiled. These propositions, depending on my choice, I never 
understood, and they caused me great pain and anxiety of mind; 
at length, recollecting how I had been deceived, and what I had 
suffered, I lost my temper, and replied, "she might come up if she 
would, or go down if she would that I would not meddle with the 
matter;" but my mind was much disordered. At this rude reply 
the vision disappeared. 

However, these phantasms are not always produced, merely by 
internal lines and shades artfully disposed together, neither are 
dreams. I recollect one morning awakening with a shout at Mr. 
C. Newington's, after dreaming that I was in an Irish village, with 
a lady and a friend, and that an Irish peasant pointed a musket 
at me, close before me. I found that I had been sleeping with my 
eyes partially open, and that part of the window, through which 
the sun shone upon me, had formed in my dream the muzzle of 
the musket. Thus, also, the ciphers which I have seen and copied 
on paper when writing, are, I conceive, partly caused by the inter- 



310 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

nal arrangement of light and shade in the eye, partly by that of the 
lines and light and shade on the paper being combined with the 
other. If this is not the case with the writing, at least it is with 
sketches and figures, or parts of figures, which I often see on the 
paper, but now imperfectly; and which, I recollect, even many years 
before I was ill, often tempted me to use the pencil. Now of this 
phenomenon all people of any imagination are, I suspect, more or 
less conscious; for it is the same thing, when we look into the fire, 
and see our friends' faces, or picture to ourselves other forms in 
the glowing and ever-changing cinders, or trace out forms in the 
veins of a marble chimney; only I must distinguish between the 
mere notice of certain lines that are like a man, or like a face, or 
like a horse, or like a tower, and that pleasing apprehension of the 
very figure itself, caused by an internal operation of the mind, 
combined with the lines which are without.* 

So it is and so it was that I saw persons around me at Brissling- 
ton, clothed with the countenances of my relations and friends. 

I observed also, during the slow progress of my recovery, which 
was made so unnecessarily cruel, by the state of exposure in which 
I was placed; that He who rules the imagination has the power, 
not only to produce written or printed words, and to throw them 
out upon blank paper; but to cover written or printed words or 
letters with other words or letters that are not there. This is also 
the case with larger objects but not so usual. It takes place (I will 
not say always}* when in reading, persons put one word for an- 
other, and it generally happens in little words that will derange 
the whole sense of a sentence; such as no, for yes; from, for to; 
unlike, for like; or in words similar, humour, for honour; quack, 
for quick; and sample, for simple. When persons make these 
blunders in reading, they immediately correct themselves and say, 
"Oh! I have made a mistake;" but generally speaking, I am per- 
suaded, they make no mistake, but read the word which they saw 
but being in good health, the operation of the mind, of the 

* Mr. Charles Dickens will bear me testimony. "What do you mean, Phib?" 
asked Miss Squeers, looking in her own little glass, where like most of us she 
saw not herself, but the reflection of some pleasant image in the brain." 
Nicholas Nickleby, chap. xii. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 311 

muscles, or of the pulses, which cleared the eye of the film, on 
which the Almighty produced the false word, which at the same 
time he threw out apparently upon the paper, was so rapid that 
it was not perceived; but my pulses, and my circulation, and the 
operations of my mind being unusually slow, through disease and 
oppression, I saw and discovered the sleight that was played upon 
me. A trick which, until I became stronger in health, made me 
doubt that the objects around me were REAL: so that I threw myself 
against doors and walls, expecting to find that they were not there, 
as I have written more at large in a former volume. 

If I may be allowed to hazard a few theories, or conjectures, 
or speculations on this subject, I should say, 

ist. Is God a God of the sincere, the grave, the sober, and the 
chaste only? Is he not also the God of fun, of humour, of frolic, 
of merriment, and of joviality? 

sd. May not humour and jocularity be NECESSARY for the 
healthful conduct of the understanding? and although excess of 
levity and of abandonment are injurious, and border on lunacy, 
yet, may not extreme starchness and severity, like a French 
tragedy, be equally unnatural, irksome, and ungrateful? I con- 
jectured, long before I became ill, that the human mind, and the 
human constitution too is double. We have (what I call igno- 
rantly, seeking for one to catch my meaning) a life in the bones 
and a life in the flesh a life in the marrow and a life in the nerves 
an inner health and an outer health. We have also, spiritually, 
a double nature. Self-love and the love of others self-esteem and 
ambition the desire to unite uprightness with grace. The two 
serpents that Mercury found contending together, and which, 
touched by his wand became united, are emblems of these. They 
are two principles of wisdom which sin makes to rack and rend 
the world and every man's bosom with discord and contentions; 
but which one like Mercury can reconcile by the word of salva- 
tion. Of these faculties, the weaker or more feminine should twine 
round the other, as a maiden round her lover as a vine twines 
round an elm. But without pliability, without yielding, without 
elasticity, how can this be? Now humour, mirth, and merry- 
making are necessary to the mind's pliability and elasticity, pro- 



gi2 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

ducing wit, and rendering instruction amusing, and learning 
healthful. But in this country every brow is overcast with melan- 
choly. This nation is morose and religiously mad. 

3d. In the exercise of any study, art, or occupation, may not 
the natural and healthy process of the mental machinery may 
not the health or perfection of the very organs we are making use 
of require an alternation of toil and rest, exertion and relaxation, 
earnestness and humour; and this, if not always, at times, even 
as rapidly as the pulsations? 

4th. That which God intended for my good may not a per- 
verse, unsimple, and suspicious disposition in me have turned to 
evil, or may I not have erred through impiety and hasty conceit. 

Thus one man, through presumption, is misled by an oracle, 
like Pyrrhus, who thought he should conquer Rome, from want 
of modesty, not asking for an interpretation, when the spirit 
spoke ambiguously: 

Aio te JEacida Romanes vincere posse. 
JLatides the Romans conquer shall. 

But another like Philip, through good sense, interprets the word 
rightly: 

v, xal rcavra 



which may be rendered, 

With silver darts thy foes assail, 
And over all thou shalt prevail. 

Which Philip found true, by sending bribes to the Greek orators 
and ministers. 

I have observed that the power of sight has been often thus 
perverted in me, for a merciful purpose showing, I may say, the 
fatherly and material, ay, marital love of that great and terrible, 
but benevolent Being, who has made us, and who protects us, 
and "who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb." Whose name be 
praised. I have in this manner been prevented from seeing ob- 
jects and apprehending ideas too suddenly, which might have 
struck me rudely, and given me great pain, when my mind was not 
prepared to receive them. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 313 

We are fond, in my family, of observing old sayings and old 
customs, without any positive faith in them, from a respect to 
ancient traditions. I have often heard there, when any trifling 
article is missing, this expression-"! suppose 'Orthon' has taken 
it away," alluding to an old superstition. Now it is often the case, 
not that a power takes the article away, but that in the manner I 
have above described he prevents it being seen, casting a film 
over the visual organs; or, at the same time that the eye is resting 
upon the thing mislaid, covering it with the semblance of some- 
thing else in the imagination. 

If there is any truth in the story of the men of Sodom being 
blinded so that they could not see the door of Lot's house, I at- 
tribute that miracle to an illusion of this kind; likewise, when 
Jesus escaped from the violence of the Jewish mob passing 
through the midst of the people; and when (the doors being 
closed) he came and stood in the midst of the disciples; and when 
he disappeared from the disciples at Emmaus, I conjecture, not 
that he was made invisible, but that the eyes of those around him 
were fascinated so that they could not recognise or see him. As, 
indeed, it is written, Luke xxiv. 16, "But their eyes were holden, 
so that they should not know him;" compare, also, the wisdom of 
Solomon, chap, xvii, and xix. Let me add, the experience I have 
had of these several phenomena explains to me many of the 
phrases and passages in the Bible in an extraordinary and satis- 
factory manner; I do, also, derive much more pleasure from those 
passages in ancient authors connected with the heathen worship 
of the Deity, and I find there is a reason, also, in much of what the 
wise and learned look upon as the credulous and superstitious 
antidotes of witchcraft and as foolish prognostications. 

Thus I have brought this painful part of my work to a termina- 
tion; and may He who made me a monument of his wrath in my 
destruction, and a monument of his mercy and loving kindness 
in my restoration, bless this work to the relief of those whom I 
have left behind me, and of those who may now be in, or who 
may hereafter come into like trouble. 



CHAPTER XXXVII 



IN the manner I have above described, and by the successive 
steps above recorded, I became at length of sound mind; and I 
should think that very few persons who have read what I have 
written, and weighed my arguments, could doubt that I was en- 
titled then to assert my claim to be considered so; or further, as I 
used to declare, extraordinary as it may appear, that I was the best 
judge of my own sanity. By soundness of mind, I do not mean any 
unerring powers of judgment, or any invincible moral strength: 
I know too well, as the wise man says, that madness is in the heart 
of all men. But I use the terms in the ordinary sense in which they 
are employed, to denote a man against whom there is no true 
ground for the charge of being unable to manage his own affairs, 
unfit for liberty through mental incapacity. A man who knows 
who and what he is, his position in the world, and what the 
persons and things are around him; who judges according to 
known, or intelligible rules; and who, if he has singular ideas 
or singular habits, can give a reason for his opinions and his con- 
duct; a man who, however wrong he may act, is not misled by any 
uncontrollable impulse or passion; who does not idly squander his 
means; who knows the legal consequences of his actions; who can 
distinguish between unseemly and seemly behaviour, who feels 
that which is proper and that which it is improper to utter, ac- 
cording to the circumstances in which he is placed; and who rev- 
erences the subject and the ministers of religion: a man who, if 
he cannot always regulate his thoughts and his temper and his 
actions, is not continually in the extremes, and if he errs, errs as 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 315 

much from benevolence and hesitation, as from passion and ex- 
citement, and more frequently: lastly, a man who can receive 
reproof, and acknowledge when he has needed correction. 

To prove that I was unjustly dealt with by the doctors under 
whose detestable and un-English control I now was detained until 
the end of the year 1838;* to prove that I was grossly and timidly 
betrayed by the magistrates, to whom I was compelled to look for 
protection, I need only establish that, however much insane, I was 
not a dangerous person to be at large, or, as the act of Parliament 
so indelicately words it, "that I was not a proper person to be 
confined." But I do not hesitate to say that I was in good faith of 
sound mind, and much more fit to be at large than many others 
whose title to liberty and to uncontrolled freedom is unchal- 
lenged. There are persons who will say that after what I had 
gone through, I must have been weak in body and in mind. That 
I grant; and if I had not known and felt conscious of that weak- 
ness, if I had not desired to follow a plan calculated to compose 
and strengthen me, to arouse and cheer me if I had not had 
resolution to adhere to such a plan, there might have been a risk 
of the return of illness, perhaps of insanity; but my insanity was 
then gone; the legal objection to my being at large was removed, 
and it was shameful to detain me on a medical hypothesis doubly 
shameful in members of the medical profession. At that time, 
moreover, I used to assert that I never could, and I still question 
whether it is possible after the manner in which I have been un- 
deceived, that I could ever possibly become an insane patient 
again. Other patients are cured, as it is called, that is to say, are 
taught to kiss the rod of the lunatic doctor; their delusions wear 
out, their impulses waste themselves, but they relapse, because 
they do not discover the secret of their disorder, they do not ex- 
ercise the same scrutinizing spirit, or they are not taught by the 
same experiences which were given to me. My weakness should 
have pleaded for me, not against me; my necessities were rendered 
by that more urgent and more overpowering: I needed quiet, I 
needed tranquillity; I needed security, I needed even at times 

* Probably a typographical error; see Introduction. GJB. 



316 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

seclusion I could not obtain them. At the same time I needed 
cheerful scenes and lively images, to be relieved from the sad 
sights and distressing associations of a madhouse; I required my 
mind and my body to be braced, the one by honest, virtuous, and 
correct conversation, the other by manly and free exercise; and 
above all, after the coarse and brutal fellowship I had been re- 
duced to, I sighed for the delicacy and refinement of female so- 
ciety. But I was tried beyond my power to bear. The dull routine 
manner of thinking, or the sordid avarice of my doctors, thwarted 
me in my honest endeavours to obtain a reform of my situation; 
and the base treachery of the legislature, and of Englishmen to- 
wards their fellow-countrymen in this awful affliction, abandoned 
me to their frightful power. 

Around me, harkl the long and maniac cry 
Of minds and bodies in captivity: 
And, harkl the struggle and the heavy fall, 
And the half-choked cry and blasphemy, 

* * * * * 

Mid sounds and sights like these long time I've passed. 
Feel I not wroth with those who made me dwell 
In this vast lazar-house of many woes? 

Where laughter is not mirth, nor thought the mind; 

Nor words a language; nor even men mankind: 
And each is tortured in his separate hell! 
For we've no rest even in our solitudes, 

Many; but each divided by a wall 
Which echoes madness in her babbling moods 

Whilst all can hear, none heed his neighbour's call 

None, save that one, the veriest wretch of all, 

Who was not meet to be the mate of these, 

Reviving slow from anguish and disease 

Feel I not wroth with those who placed me here? 

BYRON. 

If to resent neglect, insult, and ruffian-like violence, is a proof 
of madness, I was insane under Mr. Charles Newington. If to call 
by such terms the treatment I received under Dr. Fox, and to be- 
lieve that it could not have been proper or wholesome for a nerv- 
ous patient, was a delusion, I am still the puppet of a disordered 
fancy. If a desire and a determination to expose such a system, 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 317 

and to punish the conductors of it by lawful means, and a hope 
to be able to obtain their conviction for having compelled me to 
submit to a course of discipline contrary both to medical and 
surgical science, was an unjust, or even immoderate desire, I am 
still of unsound mind. If to postpone all selfish considerations, 
and to overcome the natural desire for avoiding publicity, in order 
to vindicate my rights, to uphold the law, to relieve the oppressed 
and to destroy the oppressor, and to set the Church up in proper 
authority in these matters, are symptoms of my being unfit to 
walk at large in my beloved country, hold up your hands, my read- 
ers, hold up your hands for Mr. C. Newington. 

If my exasperation against my family, and even against my 
mother, caused by long ill treatment, and by my confinement 
needlessly protracted in improper circumstances, made it whole- 
some or reasonable, or necessary, to continue the causes of that 
exasperation; if my requiring of her to join me in prosecuting a 
man who had evidently deceived her, and my opinion, in conse- 
quence of her refusal, that I was bound to include her in my 
prosecution if even that cool judgment degenerating at times 
into a desire to do so from vindictive motives, proved me to be of a 
disordered understandingif my being unable to correspond in 
temperate language with those who in fact were mocking and op- 
pressing me, whatever were their designs or intentions; if my sense 
of that inability which made me protest against being compelled 
to carry on direct correspondence, and to claim the interference 
of my friends if my disinclination to meet my relations, until 
they acknowledged their errors, arising from a similar conscious- 
ness of the impropriety of doing so if my refusal to see or to cor- 
respond with my brothers, who under these circumstances had 
referred me to the magistrates of a strange county if my attempt 
to effect my escape, and the frank expression of my determination 
to do so at any risk, and without regard to the life of those robbing 
me of my liberty; lastly, if my opinion, my desire, and my resolu- 
tion to hold Mn C. Newington responsible to me at law for acting 
upon these infamous pretences, and to try my cause with him also 
at law, proved me to be a madman, and justified him and the en- 
lightened magistrates who visited the asylum, in the detention of 



318 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

my person in prolonging my civil confinement in excluding me 
from church, and in banishing me from society; then I have no 
right to be at large now, and I am still a dangerous and unworthy 
member of society. 

These were, with the exception of one other, yet to be men- 
tioned and explained, the only reasons ever given to me for re- 
fusing me my liberty; and these reasons I could not obtain until 
the middle of the subsequent year; for to add to the cruelty of my 
treatment, and to the dastardly nature of the conduct pursued 
towards me, I was left in dreadful suspense, almost entirely ig- 
norant of the grounds my enemies I beg pardon, "my friends/ 9 
were acting upon. 

But there was one other reason, one plausible, one ostensible 
reason, one, in this country so custom-ridden and obsequious to 
fashion, perhaps convincing proof of the necessity of my confine- 
ment; and here I must beg Mr. C. Newington's pardon, and that of 
the three justices who came to look at me; having repeatedly told 
those respectable gentlemen, that no reason whatever had been 
given me for my detention. This was not correct, I had forgotten; 
but I found, on referring last year to a letter I received at Tice- 
hurst from my family, that I had made notes on it in pencil, of a 

conversation with Mr. C. N [Newington], in which he had 

told me that he considered me insane, because I wore my beard and 
long hair. "Whether the manner in which he mentioned it to me, 
had not struck me as very decided; or whether I considered it only 
as his opinion, and therefore it made no impression upon me; or 
whether I meant that I had no authority from my family (who 
Mr. C. Newington told me were responsible for confining me) 
for stating this as a cause of imprisonment, I do not know. But 
though I repeatedly declared my ignorance to the magistrates, and 
protested against being kept in the dark, and demanded informa- 
tion it was in vain; they had not the sense of justice, or humanity, 
and of common honesty, to procure for me any information. 
Neither did I obtain any until removed from under their juris- 
diction. 

I have stated, that I adopted the resolution of wearing my beard 
at Dr. Fox's, from a determination to reconsider all my opinions 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 319 

and my habits, taking nature as my guide; and that I was directed 
by the voices I heard to do so immediately out of love to my 
Saviour, in consequence of the disgusting manner in which I was 
often shaved. This command led to a violent scuffle, by which I 
was immediately cured of the fancy that I had been specially re- 
quired to commence wearing that costume; but the original 
reason, and my objection to the recurrence of being shaved in a 
room full of servants and patients, and of being washed in the 
dirty water others had been using, and wiped with the servants' 
begrimed towel, still remained. On these grounds, therefore, I 
allowed my beard to grow when I came to Dr. Newington's, and 
I also, shortly after, wore my hair in ringlets, from the same idea 
of following nature, and from the desire to hide the deformity of 
the ear, which the servants had disfigured by their blows at 
Brisslington. In this latter respect I was pleased also with the idea 
of concealing from observation, which might lead to inquiries, 
the serious injury I had received through the neglect of my family. 
At the end I preferred both these costumes as more natural and 
comfortable, and together more manly, handsome, and becoming. 
I had communicated to my family from Brisslington, all the cir- 
cumstances attending the original attempt to wear my beard; for, 
whatever may be said of the suspicious character of lunatics, I 
had then no disguise. I learnt mistrust from having been repeat- 
edly deceived. 

That my family should make this costume a pretence for keep- 
ing me in confinement, scarcely entered into my thoughts. I 
readily conceived that the doctors might be narrow-minded 
enough to do so: but I felt confident in persons of a liberal edu- 
cation, that they would be above and smile at such trifles. After- 
wards, when I began to suspect that I had deceived myself, I did 
not attribute their wrong judgment to my wearing my beard 
alone, but to their coupling it with the fancies which had ac- 
companied my first attempt to do so; indeed I recollect one of 
my sisters writing to me subsequently, "that my wearing my beard 
and hair long, were a PROOF of the continuation of my delusions." 
This made me very wroth. My word had been doubted, I had 
been kept many tedious months in confinement, I had enquired 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

the reasons for their so doing, which were refused; and I found at 
last, that I had been condemned upon presumption, and without 
inquiry and for delusions which, if true, were surely as harmless 
as any that a man could be influenced by. What injury could have 
happened to any person, for which I could have been accountable, 
by my wearing my beard and hair long, because I fondly supposed 
Jesus had so commanded me? But the fact was not so; my hair 
had never any connexion with any delusion; and those fancies 
connected with my wearing a beard were dissipated long ago. 
I am sick to make so much about a subject so personal; but I was 
very wroth. I conceived that it was the duty of those who doubted 
my word that I was of sound mind, and who abandoned me to a 
long and tedious and painful imprisonment, to which I saw no end 
to have allowed me at least an early opportunity of knowing 
their reasons; to have taken care lest they condemned me un- 
justly; to have made inquiries, and to have stated candidly their 
reasons for suspecting my honour. I felt that my honour was 
suspected, my word being doubted; and I was wounded to think 
that my family should conceive it possible in me to desire to de- 
ceive my mother, and in a matter affecting her mind's peace; and 
that they should take the word of a common lunatic doctor, in 
preference to that of a son of my father. They pretended, it is 
true, not to doubt my honour; but I replied, that although it 
might not be impossible that a man restored so far to a sound 
state of mind, as my letters must give evidence to them, that I 
was, might be still insane; yet that it was impossible but that, if 
such was the case, I should know it when restored to my lucid 
intervals; and therefore that I could not in such a case assert my 
sanity without being conscious of a lie. I could not help, there- 
fore, feeling that my honour was questioned, and I was dis- 
gusted to think that I had been condemned on presumption. My 
heart became hardened and steeled against every gentle consider- 
ation. 

I was shocked and amazed at the terrible system to which, in 
common with so many, I was subjected; without help, without 
hope. I resolved I was necessitated to pit my strength and 
abilities against that system, to fail in no duty to myself and to my 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 321 

country; but at the risk of my life, or my health, and even of niy 
understanding, to become thoroughly acquainted with its wind- 
ings, in order to expose and unravel the wickedness and the folly 
that maintained it, and to unmask the plausible villainy that 
carries it on. I do not think that I was wrong. The work that I 
am now writing may, I hope, rescue many wretched persons now 
ill treated and oppressed under it, and enlighten many gen- 
erations. 

I determined to give no man the slightest reason for having 
allowed my hair and beard to grow; I wrote to my family, taunt- 
ing them, and daring them to come into court with me on such a 
ground. I said it was sufficient for others to know that I chose to 
do it. I thought myself of sound mind, in considering it an im- 
pertinence for any one not acquainted with me to make any ob- 
servation upon it to me personally, and I do so think still, I may 
add, that it is indelicate for a man's family or friends to interfere 
in such a matter, except upon a certain footing; and that it is un- 
just to take an advantage of a man shut up as a lunatic. I de- 
termined, even if I came into court, to refuse to give a reason for 
wearing this costume, unless ordered by the judge, against whose 
decision I should have protested. "If," said I, "any one declares 
that I am actuated by delusions, I will reply;" but even then, such 
delusions could not justify my incarceration. 

Persons will say, that although strict law and justice and argu- 
ment were on my side, that I was not acting reasonably, that I 
was not guarded by moderation or by common sense; but I say 
that I was actuated not only by a strong sense of duty to the crown 
and to my country and so much the more honourable, inasmuch 
as the crown and my country had neglected me but by common 
sense. For how was I to act in the world, with any honesty, with 
any prudence, with any self-respect after I was restored to liberty, 
if I had betrayed my rights? and if I felt that I was only connived 
at for a man by those who knew me, what dignity, what spirit, 
what life could a man have under such an impression? I knew 
that my principles were different from those of my family and of 
the world in general. I was not fool enough to suppose that princi- 
ples should not influence my conduct, for good or for evil; and 



g22 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

was I to come out of prison, kissing the hands of men who had 
been spoiling me, and subject to have the meshes thrown over 
me again on any occasion, when my "friends" should be over- 
anxious about my doing myself some irreparable injury? Was I 
to be restored to society a milksop like this? Had I chosen the 
friendship of, and did I place confidence in honest men, thus to 
throw it away? No, gentlemen; those may be the terms on which 
lunatic doctors and visiting physicians may like to live in society, 
but I loved liberty, to live with an honest spirit and with honest 
men, I loved freedom to be free. I do not call a life of timid 
hypocrisy and servility liberty, any more than I call a madhouse, 
like Dr. Fox's, an asylum; but this was beyond the comprehension 
of the "bright" geniuses that came to look at me. Of whom more 
hereafter. 

But if persons of that description should still affirm that my 
conduct was immoderate and unreasonable, and that my resolu- 
tion to escape from imprisonment, even at the risk of being com- 
pelled to take another's life, was outrageous, to them I answer, 
that if I was conceited, obstinate, and violent, it did not prove me 
unnatural or insane. I had been provoked, and I had the right 
on my side. But to others whose judgment may be misled by such 
observations, I say that I regret extremely the division that took 
place between my family and myself; but I ask, was moderation to 
be only on one side? I put the question plainly; is any English- 
man to submit even to one month's confinement, purely out of 
complaisance to his family? and was I to submit to months and 
months, and interminable months of confinement, the end of 
which was shrouded in mist, whilst I was kept in cruel suspense, 
and refused any reason or any explanation? Was 7 to do this from 
deference to my family, who had abandoned me to the ill treat- 
ment I met with in Dr. Fox's madhouse, the recollection of which 
was fresh upon me? Was I to pander to others' curiosity, to ex- 
plain facts to those who made no sort of inquiry; to deal frankly 
with those who perverted what I said against me; admitting that 
it was just that I should be confined still, because I had been in- 
sanewhen for THAT VERY CAUSE, it was most cruel and unnatural 
for my relations to detain me unnecessarily; when for that very 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 323 

reason they ought to have strained a point to improve my cir- 
cumstances, and to make my situation more lively and more cheer- 
ful? No, no! Let not moderation be all on one side. Let there 
be a little thought for my feelings also. 

Again, with regard to the respect I owe to society, and the 
deference due to the institutions of my country; I pray what does 
the lunatic owe to society? what does he owe to the institutions of 
his country? Society takes great care of itself-but not of them. 
The very refined, and "religious" state of society, make it ten 
times more revolting that they are so neglected. My countrymen 
wink with their eyes, whilst we are being murdered, in spirit and 
in body. If I had felt that I had been respected, as a lunatic, by 
the laws and institutions of my country I would have given my 
own life, before I would have attempted the life of any man to 
recover my liberty. When I was informed, even falsely, that the 
legislature had provided for our defence, I gave up my resolu- 
tion until I could obtain legal opinion. But was I to be mocked at, 
was I to be exposed to the brutal ruffianism of Dr. Fox's menials 
and system, without redress? was I to be imprisoned as mad for 
resenting that ruffianly treatment was I to wait three months 
barred and locked in, and deprived of the exercise of every public 
act of devotion in this land of religious freedom, before I could 
see a soul to whom by the laws I could appeal for justice? and 
then am I to be told that I was to respect my country; and the 
feelings of society? I consider that in such circumstances I re- 
spected my country and society best by standing by my rights in 
throwing aside deference to a false, a morbid, and a hypocritical 
delicacy. 

Should it be said, "You admit that you had been insane it 
could not have been fair to expect that your liberty should be 
restored to you immediately your friends and society required 
some security for your good behaviour?" I answer "A man may 
be mad to-day, and yet perfectly sane to-morrow; and then his 
sense of the dreadful snare thrown around him may upset his 
reason again, in a more fearful manner. (If a man how much 
rather a female, whose nature is more delicate, whose frame is 
more sensitive, whose situation is more defenceless?)" Neverthe- 



324 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

less, I allow that society should have some security; but I was not 
to suffer with taineness and resignation, for the sake of society 
which had neglected their duty to themselves and to me; or rather 
which took such selfish care that I should not get out. Moreover, 
there is a difference between confinement and observation: ob- 
servation, I desired to be placed under, and had my family re- 
spected me, I would have continued under observation, to relieve 
them of any reasonable anxiety, almost unto this day. But I could 
not submit for society, or for any body else, to be confined pas- 
sively in a situation which I could not bear. Surely I am the best 
judge of my own experience. 

Such was my position at the end of April, 1832. 

I knew of no reasons for my continued confinement; and if 
any had been given me, I had forgotten them, or they had been 
communicated in a manner which made me think lightly of them. 
Mr. Newington also repeatedly assured me that I was NOT a lunatic 
but a NERVOUS patient, and that he was only afraid I should be 
made ill again by society! My mind looked forward then to a 
weary confinement in loathsome circumstances, and in a degrad- 
ing position, until this man's conceit and vanity, or cupidity were 
satisfied. I could not imagine that honest and liberal minds, pos- 
sessing such power of judgment, and such diversity of talent as 
belong to my family, could confine me as insane because I wore 
ringlets and a beard or because I had certain views of instituting 
legal proceedings against Dr. Fox and Dr. Newington, or even 
against them. I cannot now conceive how any honest minds could 
come to such a resolution.* At the same time, I could not believe 
it possible that a family so just and truly amiable could confine 
me merely to compel me to relinquish my objects. To question 
my relations seemed to me to be a reflection upon myself. I had 
such faith in their simplicity and honesty, that I was rather driven 
to doubt my own self. Too great were the sufferings of mind I 
endured, watching continually over, and scrutinizing my own 
conduct and emotions to see if they betrayed any symptoms of 
insanity I became so alive to cruel anxiety that I even walked 

* It would be a short way to settle all causes, to have the appellant shut 
up as a madman. 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 325 

about with a small pocket-glass and if any one passing me or 
conversing with me, seemed to notice me, I stole on one side to 
examine what was the expression o my features. At other times, 
I feared that my mother might keep me confined from the fear 
that I might expose my family, by my religious opinions either 
as a member of the Row heresy or as an unbeliever according as 
I changed from one to the other; or from the fear that, my moral 
principles being gone, I might indulge in criminal excesses; or 
from fear of my attempting my own life, and to do injury to others. 
But of these, I have no ground to suppose that any but the latter 
had any influence over her conduct. My family have not much 
originality of idea, or independence of mind. They thought, with 
the world, that lunacy was an impenetrable mystery; that lunatic 
doctors were the only persons capable of meddling with it; that 
they were entitled to submission, if not to implicit confidence. 
They never thought to question these premises. They thought 
also that it was their duty to conceal the misfortune that had hap- 
pened to me, and that 720 one in his senses could wish to have it 
exposed. Simple, faithful, and conscientious in their own deal- 
ings, and living retired, even my brothers not being aware of one 
half of what / now know goes on in the world around them, they 
were not prepared to guard against such a system of duplicity and 
chicanery of revolting insult, and murderous violence of racket 
and confusion, as I was subjected to. They could not believe it 
possible, or, if possible, so wholly unnecessary. They will not be- 
lieve it true, nor how much they have wronged me; and therefore, 
even now, like many others, they may consider me, for publishing 
this work, yet scarcely of sound mind. But now these things are 
true therefore I cannot keep silence. Necessity is laid upon me, 
and I must bear witness of these things. And yet who is on my 
side? where shall I find energy to reform these abuses? "Who hath 
believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" 
"I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of my people there were 
none with me." "My acquaintance and my friends stood afar off." 
"But I will tread them in my anger, and I will vex them in my 
sore displeasure." 

In these pages I do not intentionally bear witness against the 



326 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

inspirations which came upon the godly men I knew at Row and 
Port Glasgow; indeed, I am not worthy to be compared with any 
righteous and virtuous man, therefore let the sufferings of each 
and the merits of each stand on their proper foundation; more- 
over, I was denied, I understand, by the church at Row; and they 
said, I am told, that I was possessed by a devil; therefore, I con- 
ceive, no inference is to be drawn from me to them. I thought 
that I loved them, but, since the inward cross-examination I have 
endured for so long a time, my mind is become exhausted and 
confused, and I hardly know what is life, or what is deathwhat 
is feeling, or what is affectation. 

Neither do I pretend to determine what was the nature of the 
influences by which I was misguided. Others may expect, that as 
I profess to be of sound mind, I ought to be able to express a 
decided opinion; but I consider, on the contrary, that I should 
not be of sound mind if I did not hesitate to make up my own 
judgment. Having, therefore, minutely, and, as far as I am able, 
faithfully recorded what I have experienced, I leave it to others 
to determine. For myself, I am not able to say, whether those 
influences were or were not entirely the effect of derangement 
whether they were altogether evil, and in no part divine. 

Do I presume, then, to compare the broken or absurd sentences 
spoken by or inspired to me, with the compact and consistent body 
of prophecy and revelation contained in the holy Bible? I reply- 
That is not my present object. I compare only the Power which 
acted upon me with the Power which of old influenced the 
prophets and the apostles. I question if that Power was not physi- 
cally the same, from the resemblance of the physical effects. Never- 
theless, let nie add, that though the inspirations or revelations, if 
I may so call them, which have come to me, were broken and 
confused, and in appearance contradictory, I can ascribe that con- 
fusion and irregularity to defects in my own disposition, and I 
think I can reconcile the apparent contradictions. I may also 
remark, that custom makes us dead to the extraordinary nature 
o the ancient prophecies. Absurd and horrible as have been my 
delusions, I have not, like Abraham, been commanded to slay my 
own child I have not, like Ehud, been commanded to assassinate 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 327 

my king I have not, like Samuel, or Elisha, been ordered to anoint 
a subject king, in the place of my sovereign's children I have not, 
like Ezekiel, laid on my side thirteen months or eaten dung I 
have not, like Adonijah, snatched my companion's cloak from 
him, and rent it in two. It is all very well to say now, after these 
signs have been fulfilled, that such acts were reasonable. Before 
the things signified came to pass what would my readers have 
thought of them? 

I divide such mental experiences as we have described in the 
Scriptures, and as I was misled by, into three kinds preternatural, 
supernatural, and miraculous. By preternatural, I mean such as 
are to be attributed to a defect of mental or physical power, to a 
diseased, a feverish and excited state of the organs of perception; 
by supernatural, I mean such as the seeing of ghosts the visions 
or inspirations of the ancient sibyls and pagan priests, where we 
may conceive demons are permitted to exercise a power on the 
mind superior to nature; by miraculous, I understand such as are 
the work of God, for some special purpose such as we suppose the 
prophecies and visions recorded in the Bible to be. I do not affirm 
that there are any properly belonging to these two latter denomi- 
nations. 

I argue this: It does not follow, even in the case that the facts 
mentioned of the prophets and apostles were divine that they 
were any thing more than preternatural. The apostles were, many 
of them, men of a superstitious class, and both prophets and 
apostles lived in an age of credulity and of superstition, and in an 
eastern dime; they were also subject to great privations and ex- 
traordinary trials,* and besides fasted long and often. These 
things try the constitution, and make the mind very susceptible: 
they were predisposed then to see visions, and to hear voices 
addressing them, and to have singular feelings in short, to all the 
experiences of persons of nervous temperament. We know also 
that by medicines, by opium, and by other drugs, many of these 
effects can be produced; that the ancient priestesses at Delphi and 
elsewhere inhaled a powerful gas before giving their oracles; and 

* Daniel, Ezekiel, Elijah, &c. 



328 PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 

I myself can bear witness that when my mind is most troubled 
with joy or anxiety, and when my stomach is most disordered, 
I am most liable to see visions and hear voices; or, as I conjecture 
now, my thoughts are most liable to float around me, or to buzz 
around me like bees. The nature of the visions I then see and of 
the words I hear may depend upon the state of my blood, of my 
dispositions, of my conscience; only that, as in dreams, sometimes, 
I conceive, they are suggested by contraries. I also must remark, 
when I say my thoughts, I do not speak as if I had control over 
them, and I feel doubtful if any sights or sounds so beautiful and 
singular can be mine, in a proper sense, being unconscious gen- 
erally of any thing more than the usual humdrum method of 
thinking in which other people plod on; but this may be that my 
mind is ill regulated, hurried, vexed, distracted, so that I, like 
others, do not notice the operations of it; and latterly, I think I 
have observed that these visions at least, are essential to thought, 
and combined with it and with perception: so one person clothes 
all objects with a spirit of drollery, or, as we say, sees every thing 
in a droll light; another is always finding resemblances in persons 
and in objects that is, his imagination clothes them with this 
resemblance; another sees every thing fretfully; another takes 
every thing in good humour the imagination of the one clothes 
the lines and angles and figures presented to him, with irritating 
the other with good-humoured representations or recollections. 
The mind being thus preternaturally disposed to be influenced 
through the imagination, it is possible that the Almighty may 
make use of that faculty, in some to enlighten and instruct them, 
and to give them foreknowledge for the instruction of others; in 
others to amuse them; in others to deceive them; in others for all 
these purposes united. I would class, therefore, the miraculous 
relations of Scripture, and all others, under the one head of preter- 
natural phenomena. And I would define them all extraordinary 
impressions on the mind produced by the influence of the power 
which informs the imagination, working in a disordered or 
decayed frame. Thus, I conceive that such sensations may be only 
preternatural and yet divine. Neither do I mean that, when I 
declared that I was of sound mind, I had ceased altogether from 



PERCEVAL'S NARRATIVE 329 

hearing these voices, or from seeing visions, any more than that 
I have ceased from seeing and hearing persons speak in my dreams. 
I used the terms in good faith, as they are ordinarily used in 
society, not including necessarily an unerring judgment upon 
religious subjects, a positive knowledge, or a fixed faith in any 
particular sect or religion; all which a person may profess to have, 
and yet be very wrong, and yet be of unsound mind. Like Balaam, 
I can declare no further than what is permitted to me. My mean- 
ing, therefore, is, that though I still occasionally heard these 
voices, and saw visions, I did not heed them more than I would 
my own thoughts, or than I would dreams, or the ideas of others. 
Nay, more than that, I rather acted diametrically opposite to 
them, hating them for having deceived me. My organs of sight 
and of hearing may have been still disordered, but not my under- 
standing. 

As a proof of this, I recollect, when I was aware of my having 
been thoroughly duped, or mistaken; and was considering what 
course I should adopt to escape from my fearful captivity 
whether to play the hypocrite, and secure the good opinion of 
Mr. Newington, which was foreign to my nature, or to look to the 
law and to the magistrates for my release; when I had adopted 
the latter resolution, as a duty to myself and to others, these siren 
tongues and visions came to show me the semblance of a holy, 
godlike, and perfect patience and resignation; whereby I might 
put it into execution, manifesting, as they pretended, the life of 
the Holy Spirit in me, and imitating the manners and the be- 
haviour, as I supposed, of the Lord; but I resolutely refused to 
listen to their suggestions, and I determined to carry out my reso- 
lutions, with all the defects, as well as all the sincerity of a natural 
man a plain and very weak Englishman. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 



As I regained health, I naturally desired to employ myself, and 
to recover lost time, by returning to keep my terms at the univer- 
sity. As Mr. Newington's refusal to allow me to do this, consti- 
tuted one of my grounds of complaint against him, and for an 
action at law, to recover damages for loss of time, which I believe 
I should have been fully justified in undertaking; I will insert my 
first letter to Dr. M'Bride, which probably led to this resolution. 
I cannot mention his name without expressing my regret that my 
acquaintance with that amiable and talented gentleman was so 
soon severed. 

Ticehurst, May 2, 1832. 
MY DEAR SIR, 

It is with infinite regret that I take up my pen to make so late 
an apology to you, for having disappointed you in not returning 
to Oxford in 1830; as I had designed doing, and given you reason 
to expect. The overturning of my reason by the singular chastise- 
ment of the Lord, was the only thing that prevented me from 
either returning to Oxford, or excusing myself to you. This ruin 
took place in Dublin on the i5th or i6th of December, 1830, and 
I did not return to the possession of my faculties again till the 
latter end of November, 1831; since which time I have, as far as 
my affliction would permit me, been labouring against the preju- 
dices of my physicians, and the misled judgments of my friends, 
to obtain more repose and quiet, by retirement in a private lodg- 
ing, or in a private family; as I find an asylum a place of continual 
disturbance, and of disagreeable and indelicate exposure: it was 
not however till Monday that a dawn of hope broke in upon me. 

It was not till within the last month or two that I had any 
decided idea of returning to Oxford, to prosecute my studies, for 



PERCEVAL S NARRATIVE 3J1 

I had no hopes of being able to resume them, owing to the ex- 
tremely cruel tortures of soul and spirit which I was compelled 
to submit to, under pretence of healing my understanding, to- 
gether with personal violence. This happened under the physi- 
cian my mother intrusted me to at Brisslington in Somersetshire. 
I am now under the care of a gentleman named Newington, at 
Ticehurst in Sussex, a well-meaning and humane man, but on 
some points mistaken. Here, having had, for nine weeks, a private 
room to sit in a luxury I had not enjoyed for THIRTEEN months 
before! my nerves have begun to recover their original tone, and 
I have hopes of returning to Oxford soon, if the Lord permit. 

I desire it for I love it on account of its peace, freshness, and 
tranquillity; but I fear that I shall find some difficulty in persuad- 
ing my friends and my physician, that I have strength of mind 
enough to avoid anxious subjects in conversation, or to leave 
society and my studies, when I find them pain me and hurtful, 
but I will endeavour to do so. 

I shall be obliged to you if you will do me the favour of letting 
me know how my friend Cameron is, and whether he is still at 
Magdalene Hall, as I intend to write him a few lines. I request 
you also, to remember me kindly to Mr. Hill, and to his family, 
if you are acquainted with the principal of Edmund Hall; also to 
Mr. Buckley, of Merton, and Mr. Harrington, of Brazenose. I 
shall also be glad if you will mention my recovery to Kilbee, the 
person with whom I lodged, with whom I believe you are person- 
ally acquainted. I do not know if there is any one else at Oxford, 
that I can hope will have much recollection of me. Hoping that 
Mrs. M'Bride and your daughter are well, 

Believe me, dear Sir, 8cc, 8cc.