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Of the lunatic it is also universally true, that his understanding is perverted to evils, which a mere perversion of the understanding does not necessarily imply; he either sits torpid in despair, or is busied in the contrivance or the execution of mischief. But if lunacy is ultimately produced by mere material causes, it is difficult to shew, why misery or malevolence should always be complicated with absurdity; why madness should not sometimes produce instances of frantic and extravagant kindness, of a benevolent purpose formed upon erroneous principles and pursued by ridiculous means, and of an honest and harmless cheerfulness arising from the fancied felicity of others.
A lunatic is, indeed, sometimes merry, but the merry lunatic is never kind; his
sport is always mischief; and mischief is rather aggravated than atoned by wantonness; his disposition is always evil in proportion to the height of his phrenzy; and upon this occasion it may be remarked, that if every approach to madness is a deviation to ill, every deviation to ill may be considered as an approach to madness.
Among other unaccountable phænomena in lunacy, is the invincible absurdity of opinion with respect to some single object, while the mind operates with its full vigour upon every other: it sometimes happens, that when this object is presented to the mind, reason is thrown quite out of her seat, and the perver. sion of the understanding for a time becomes general; but sometimes it still continues to be perverted but in part, and the absurdity itself is defended with all the force of regular argumentation,
A most extraordinary instance of this kind may now be communicated to the public, without injury to a good man, or a good cause which he successfully maintained. Mr. Simon Browne, a dissenting teacher of exemplary life and eminent intellectual abilities, after having been some time seized with melancholy, desisted from the duties of his function, and could not be persuaded to join in any act of worship either public or private. His friends often urged him to account for this change in his conduct, at which they expressed the utmost grief and astonishment; and after much importunity he told them, that he had fallen under the sensible displeasure of God, who had caused his rational soul gradually to perish; and left him only an animal life in common with brutes; that it was, therefore, prophane for him to pray, and incongruous to be present at the prayers of others.'
In this opinion, however absurd, he was inflexible, at a time when all the powers of his mind subsisted in their full vigour, when his conceptions were clear, and hiş reasoning strong.
Being once importuned to say grace at the table of a friend, he excused himself many times; but the request being still repeated, and the company kept standing, he discovered evident tokens of distress, and after some irresolute gestures and hesitation, expressed with great fervour this ejaculation : Most merciful and Almighty God, let thy spirit, which moved
the face of the waters when there was no light, descend upon me; that from this darkness there may rise
up a man to praise thee !' But the most astonishing proof both of his intellectual excellence and defect, is, • A defence of the Religion of Nature and the Christian Revelation, in answer to Tindal's Christianity as old as the Creation,' and his dedicafion of it to the late queen. The book is universally allowed to be the best which that controversy produced, and the dedication is as follows:
• Madam, • Of all the extraordinary things that have been tendered to your royal hands since your first happy
arrival in Britain, it may be boldly said, what now bespeaks your majesty's acceptance is the chief.
Not in itself indeed; it is a trifle unworthy your exalted rank, and what will hardly prove an entertaining amusement to one of your majesty's deep penetration, exact judgment, and fine taste.
• But on account of the author, who is the first being of the kind, and yet without a name.
• He was once a man; and of some little name; but of no worth, as his present unparalleled case makes but too manifest; for by the immediate hand of an avenging God, his very thinking substance has for more than seven years been continually wasting away, till it is wholly perished out of him, if it be not utterly come to nothing. None, no not the least remembrance of its very ruins, remains, not the shadow of an idea is left, nor any sense that, so much as one single one, perfect or imperfect, whole or diminished, ever did appear to a mind within him, or was perceived by it
• Such a present from such a thing, however worthless in itself, may not be wholly unacceptable to your majesty, the author being such as history cannot parallel: and if the fact, which is real and no fiction, nor wrong deceit, obtains credit, it must be recorded as the most memorable and indeed astonishing event in the reign of George the second, that a tract composed by such a thing was presented to the illustrious Caroline; his royal consort needs not be added ; fame, if I am not misinformed, will tell that with pleasure to all succeeding times.
• He has been informed, that your majesty's piety is as genuine and eminent, as your excellent qualities are great and conspicuous. This can, indeed, be truly known to the great searcher of hearts only; He alone, who can look into them, can discern if they are sincere, and the main intention corresponds with the appearance; and your majesty cannot take it amiss, if such an author hints, that His secret approbation is of infinitely greater value than the commendation of men, who may be easily mistaken and are too apt to flatter their superiors.
• But if he had been told the truth, such a case as his will certainly strike your majesty with astonishment, and
raise that commiseration in your royal breast which he has in vain endeavoured to excite in those of his friends; who by the most unreasonable and ill-founded conceit in the world, have imagined, that a thinking being could for seven years together live a stranger to its own powers, exercises, operations and state, and to what the great God has been doing in it and to it.
• If your majesty, in your most retired address to the King of Kings, should think of so singular a case, you may, perhaps, make it your devout request, that the reign of your beloved sovereign and consort may be renowned to all posterity by the recovery
of a soul now in the utmost ruin, the restoration of one utterly lost at present amongst men.
And should this case affect your royal breast, you will recommend it to the piety and prayers of all the truly devout, who have the honour to be known to your majesty: many such doubtless there are: though courts are not usually the places where the devout resort, or where devotion reigns. And it is not improbable, that multitudes of the pious throughout the land may take a case to heart, that under your majesty's patronage comes thus recommended.
. Could such a favour as this restoration be obtained from Heaven by the prayers of your majesty, with what a transport of gratitude would the recovered being throw himself at your
majesty's feet, and adoring the Divine Power and Grace, profess himself, • Madam, Your majesty's most obliged
• and dutiful servant.'
This dedication, which is no where feeble or absurd, but in the places where the object of his phrenzy was immediately before him, his friends found means to suppress; wisely considering, that a book, to which it should be prefixed, would certainly be condemned without examination; for few would have required stronger evidence of its inutility, than that the author, by his dedication, appeared to be mad. The
copy, however, was preserved, and has been transcribed into the blank leaves before one of the books which is now in the library of a friend to this undertaking, who is not less distinguished by his merit than his rank, and who recommended it as a literary curiosity, which was in danger of being lost for want of a repository in which it might be preserved.