Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/838

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cheek shown in a very admirable bust, probably the last ever taken." But as Wilde admits, the "six well-known busts of Swift, undoubtedly taken about the same time, exhibit six different forms of head bearing but little resemblance to each other," the much-glossed-over appearance can, therefore, scarcely be admitted as evidence. Probably the stroke of palsy recorded in the plaster-cast had taken place unobserved at or about the time of the actual outbreak of the mental disorder, which might have masked the physical symptoms from observation.

When "the Vandal desecration of monuments" in 1835 exposed Swift's skull to the phrenologists, the great Dublin aurist might possibly have found in the bones of the ear traces of the cause of his giddiness. When Mr. Whiteway examined the brain he might have found the cause of Swift's right-sided hemiplegia and his aphasia. It is enough now that we can diagnose his life-long disease as labyrinthine vertigo, and his insanity as dementia with aphasia; the dementia arising from general decay of the brain from age and disease, the paralysis and aphasia from disease of one particular part of the brain.

With all the tortures of the life-long disease from which he suffered and its obvious effect upon his temper in his later years, it is wonderful that Swift did retain his reason until, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, he was in all probability struck down by a new disease in the form of a localized left-side apoplexy or cerebral softening, which determined the symptoms of his insanity.

That Swift's works contain no indications of insanity appears to me certain. As well say that Shakespeare was mad because he wrote a good deal which we think nasty. In the fashion of the day, Swift was too prone to make what may be called excrementitious jokes and gibes. But that perfect gentleman Antonio voided his rheum upon Shylock's beard; and the same kind of thing runs through our literature, no one objecting, until we rather recently began to become less natural and more nice. Some of our smaller humorists and men of letters have criticised this great king of humor as if he were both bad and mad, not perceiving that if he were really insane he must be pitied and not cursed. But it is the weakest of arguments to say, with Festus, for want of argument, "Much learning doth make thee mad." There is always weakness in madness, but there is little sign of this in Swift's works. There is always some inconsequentness or incoherency in madness, but there is none of this in Swift. Down to that last letter to Mrs. Whiteway he is most wretched, but he is still collected and wholly himself.

One final consideration is that the oppressive and disabling nature of Swift's life-long disease has been greatly underrated in the more severe of the criticisms which have been made with regard to his conduct to Esther Johnstone. I do not know that labyrinthine vertigo would necessarily incapacitate a man for the performance of marital