Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/837

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815
DEAN SWIFT'S DISEASE.

giddy fit and swimming in the head. M. D. and God help me. August.—Sick with giddiness much. 1710. Jan.—Giddy. March.—Sadly for a day. 4th. Giddy from 4th. 14th.—Very ill. July.—Terrible fit. Gd knows what may be the event. Better towards the end."

It is true that the paroxysms were not so numerous as those of most other cases of the disease which are on record, and also that the deafness never became absolute, and therefore that the disease never ceased. It increased in intensity as life advanced, until it confined him to his chamber for weeks at a time. It is also to be remarked that a slight degree of vertigo caused great constitutional disturbance. "I had a little turn in my head this morning, which, though it did not last above a moment, yet, being of the true sort, has made me as weak as a dog all this day."—Journal, October 23, 1711. "This morning I felt a little twitch of giddiness, which has disordered and weakened me with its ugly remains all this day."—Journal, January 25, 1812. Another characteristic of the vertigo, noted in a quotation already given, is that at one time any slight movement of the head brought it on.

It is certain that this fearful disease, aggravated with the increase of years, had an influence in the causation of Swift's insanity; but that its influence was direct—that is to say, by the extension of the local disease to the brain—is by no means so sure as its indirect effect as one source of the profound depression which marked the latter years of his sane life. We have no authentic account of the first outbreak of insanity, and Sir Walter's statement that, after his understanding failed, "his first state was that of violent and furious lunacy," would seem to have been applicable only to that later period when he suffered indescribable torture from some unknown local disease, producing exophthalmos of the left eye. It is clear there was emotional depression amounting to melancholia, and "much water in the brain," which was probably sub-arachnoid effusion, is sufficient evidence of dementia. But there was also that form of aphasia in which scraps of reasonable language come automatically, though intentional effort can produce no words, and very curiously, in connection with this fact, comes the evidence of the plaster-cast, "brought to light a hundred years after death," that there was right-sided hemiplegia. The knowledge of the importance of this fact also has been acquired since Sir William Wilde wrote his work, and it is not, therefore, surprising that while he so carefully and skillfully marshals the data upon which our diagnosis is now made, he does not connect the right-sided hemiplegia with the very peculiar affection of speech recorded by one of the two authentic witnesses above quoted. Sir William Wilde expresses the opinion that the hemiplegia had existed for several years before death, "for we find the same appearance much glossed over by the artist, together with a greater fullness or plumpness of the right