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Curses, not loud, but deep, mouth-honour, breath,
Which the poor heart would fain deny, but dare not." He must have turned to the right of the scaffolding, and joining the road (the Chaussée) a little to the south of La Belle Alliance, there he must have met the wreck of his forces. A little farther on this road his carriage was found. The position of Buonaparte is the most excellent. The machine was placed by the side of the road, but he ordered it to be shifted. The shifting of this scaffolding shows sufficiently the power of confidence and the resolution of the man. It is above sixty feet in height. I climbed upon it four times the length of my body, by exact measurement; this was only the first stage. Standing here, it was a giddy height. I was filled with admiration of a man of his habit of life, who could stand perched on a height of sixty-five feet above everything, and contemplate, see, and arrange such a scene. Already stillness dwells here; mid-day and the sun bright, and all shining in gladness, yet a mournful silence. No living thing is here; no kites, no birds of any kind, nothing but a few wretched women and old men, scattered on the height at a distance, who are employed in gathering balls.'
This is the last of the journal :
"Ostend, Sunday.-Still here. It is vain to say how much I might have done in Brussels—how much engaged at home-here we lie like a log on the water. We hear much of the allies in Paris—of the armistice, and of Whitbread! Alas! how sincerely I lament him! He did much for me in a matter I had much at heart; he seemed to have a hearty kindly manner quite at variance with his public character. He seemed a man made to buffet with the world—to cut his throat! I am yet inclined again to say “it is a lie.” It is this more than the state of unpleasant suspense in which I am kept that frets me with the time. How precious is a just way of thinking, a love for mankind, a desire of doing good! which, I should think, was likely to prevent a man letting this gloom quite overshadow him and obscure his reason; besides, is there not a terrible want of regard for the feelings of others in this act ? I'll to the deck again, and contemplate this weary scene as the sun goes down. How precious dear friends, and how dearer they become in this desolation amidst a throng! The night is cold, grey, northern, and unkind; the wind rather in the shrouds; the tide is down, and the harbour without its activity.'
We have, in the Life of Sir Walter Scott,' a very remarkable letter of Bell's from Brussels, describing the wounds of his French patients, &c. Another not less striking letter was addressed, soon after he came back, to Mr. Horner:
July, 1815. My dear Horner,-- I write this to you, after being some days at home engaged in my usual occupations, and consequently disenchanted of the horrors of the battle of Waterloo. I feel relief in this, for certainly if I had written to you from Brussels I should have appeared very extravagant. An absolute revolution took place in my economy, body
and soul; so that I, who am known to require eight hours' sleep, found first three hours, and then one hour and a half sufficient, after days of the most painful excitement and bodily exertion.
After I had been five days engaged with the prosecution of my object I found that the best cases, that is the most horrid wounds, left totally without assistance, were to be found in the hospital of the French wounded. This hospital was only forming; they were even then bringing these poor creatures in from the woods. It is impossible to convey to you the picture of human misery continually before my eyes. What was heart-rending in the day was intolerable at night; and I rose and wrote, at four o'clock in the morning, to the chief surgeon Gunning, offering to perform the necessary operations upon the French. At six o'clock I took the knife in my hand, and continued incessantly at work till seven in the evening; and so the second day, and again the third day.
All the decencies of performing surgical operations were soon neglected : while I amputated one man's thigh, there lay at one time thirteen, all beseeching to be taken next; one full of entreaty, one calling upon me to remember my promise to take him, another execrating. It was a strange thing to feel my clothes stiff with blood, and my arms powerless with the exertion of using the knife; and, more extraordinary still, to find my mind calm amidst such variety of suffering; but to give one of these objects access to your feelings was to allow yourself to be unmanned for the performance of a duty. It was less painful to look upon the whole than to contemplate one object.
· When I first went round the wards of the wounded prisoners my sensations were very extraordinary. We had everywhere heard of the manner in which these men had fought-nothing could surpass
their devotedness. In a long ward, containing fifty, there was no expression of suffering; no one spoke to his neighbour; there was a resentful, sullen rigidness of face, a fierceness in their dark eyes, as they lay half covered in the sheets.
Sunday.- I was interrupted, and now I perceive I was falling into the mistake of attempting to convey to you the feelings which took possession of me amidst the miseries of Brussels. After being eight days among the wounded, I visited the field of battle. The view of the field, the gallant stories, the charges, the individual instances of enterprise and valour, recalled me to the sense which the world has of victory and Waterloo. But this was transient—a gloomy uncomfortable view of human nature is the inevitable consequence of looking upon the whole as I did-as I am forced to do.
It is a misfortune to have our sentiments so at variance with the universal sentiment. But there must ever be associated with the honours of Waterloo, in my eyes, the most shocking signs of woe; to my ear, accents of entreaty, outcry from the manly breast, interrupted forcible expressions of the dying ;-and noisome smells. I must show you my note-books, for as I took my notes of cases generally by sketching the object of our remarks, it may convey an excuse for this excess of sentiment. Faithfully yours,
From this period to 1821, when Bell published his first paper on the Nervous System in the Philosophical Transactions,' his tastes and distastes became more clearly separated. His mind was warped towards the contemplation of principles rather than the practice of the detail of his profession. He lived only for science, and hoped that science would have given him a livelihood—but it gave him nothing. His professional income fluctuated between 14001. and 24001. a-year ;-and whoever knows the expense attending the exercise in London of such a profession as medicine, will wonder how he contrived not only to avoid debt, but to educate and set out in the world many of his nephews—the children of that brother who had done so much for him.
It was, we see, with a feeling of utter despondency that Bell produced the paper which at last interested the scientific world in his theory of the nervous system.
* 13th July, 1821.-Last night my paper was read before the Royal Society. I never felt so idle, did so little, or found my existence depending so little on what I am about. I receive my guinea, and look for more.
This is a pitiable life, and one which I know I cannot long endure. A man's business is to relax and enjoy something natural is he expects to improve his mind or his heart; and of all sources of distraction the worst is a continual moiling like a moudie (mole].'
The essay, contrary to his expectations, fixed the attention of the public, and on all sides the merit of the author was acknowledged. It is painful to add that within eighteen months after the reading of this paper, the claim so long neglected, so late admitted, was with audacious injustice invaded :—the discovery which had been the labour of his life, slowly made out and matured, was attempted to be snatched by others. The details of that miserable dispute, now for ever settled, are to be found in the able work of Mr. Alexander Shaw. It was most fortunate that Bell had printed his · Idea' in 1811. Since his death his right has been attested in the most solemn and deliberate manner by, among other decisive authorities, the organs of the two great scientific bodies of England—the Royal Society and the College of Surgeons.* It will never be questioned again.
* The noble president (the Marquis of Northampton) stated in his anniversary address to the Royal Society in 1842,—that whatever wé may owe to the genius of other men in this field of research, the discovery of the grand fundamental principle upon which a correct knowledge of the functions of the nervous system depends, is unquestionably due to Sir Charles Bell..... In fact, the great advancement which has been made of late years in our knowledge of the nature and treatment of the diseases of the nervous system, is mainly attributable to the labours and discoveries of Sir Charles Bell.' That sound and accomplished surgeon, Mr. Arnott, selected to deliver the Hunterian oration, in 1843, before the College of Surgeons, gives to Bell the meed of having made the greatest discovery in the physiology of the nervous system for twenty centuries.' A tardy justice towards one who was now alike indifferent to censure as to praise.
But to go back to 1821. He seems to have been elated by the reception of his Essay, to an extent not usual with men of large mind and experience, on the grave borders of fifty. In October he writes : – You have my paper on the nerves.
I must again repeat to you I think myself a very great personage, but I leave all that to your partiality. In November he says: 'I send you some letters which I have received on this occasion. They will serve to convince you I am not a visionary on the subject; but Í know better than others can tell me what is to become of this matter. It gives me a power of doing what I choose now, and will hereafter put me by the side of Harvey—but this is in your ear. Harvey was said to have had the way prepared for him, so that he could not miss itso fools argue the matter. But the discoverer of the Nervous System had nobody to go before him, for the researches of anatomists had only rendered the subject more intricate and obscure! Still I find my character higher than ny fortune – compliments, not money
On Saturday I had a surgeon from Manchester to consult me on his own case-on Monday a physician from Hull—and to-day a patient sent from Paris—from Turin—from Pavia,—with the universal opinion that I was the man to cure him; indeed he brought this opinion from the excellent Scarpa.'
In December, 1921, he says: Joking apart, I stand alone in anatomy! This business of the nerves may be long of coming forward exactly as it should ; but my ambition has a rest in this, that I have made a greater discovery than ever was made by any one man in anatomy—and I have not yet done.'
Here let us pause to test Bell's assertion by a very brief outline of his great discovery. The criteria by which the merits of such an effort can be measured are-1st, the grandeur of the subject itself—2ndly, its intricacy—3rdly, the quantum of unsuccessful thought previously expended on its elucidation. The subject matter may at once be pronounced among the loftiest offered to our contemplation. Placed between two worlds, the invisible and the material, our nervous system conveys cognitions from each. There is no access to the soul but through its agency—buried within the recesses of the body, the motionless nerves are the sources and combiners of all that we see of movement, all that we witness of sensation in animated nature-strength, power, thought, emotion, pleasure, pain, are connected with that mysterious portion of our frames which makes the spirit of man alike apt to receive the notices of distant worlds, or of the minutest particles of surrounding matter. The intricacy of the nervous system is such that, if the rest of our frames could be discharged like the pulp from a withered leaf, a fine net-work of fibrils would remain to characterise the shape of man. The point of
VOL. LXXII. NO. CXLIII.
the smallest needle applied to the skin warns the mind of painful contact; how ?—by a nerve: yet, closely as these nerves of sensation must be packed, beside them are others for different purposes. The mind which could unravel this meshwork was no common mind. The most gifted men of the greatest nations of antiquity, Aristotle, Galen—the greatest of modern days, Harvey, Haller, Hunter, Cuvier-all had alike failed to solve the problem. It was reserved for Bell to track the paths by which sensation is conveyed and volition travels.
Previous to his time, the brain was considered not only as the organ of thought, but as a kind of reservoir and generator of nervous fluid,' which was discharged through the spinal marrow to the nerves, and so caused the variety of phenomena peculiar to this part of our frame. All the nerves of the body being similar in structure were supposed to be the same in function, each being capable of conveying all kinds of impressions and actions—those of the senses being modified by the mechanism of the appropriate organ. If some organs had only one nerve, while others had many, the latter were considered more highly charged with nervous fluid. The innumerable experiments of elder physiologists seemed to confirm all this, for if the trunk of a single nerve was cut-of a limb for example—two functions were lost, namely, sensation and motion in that limb. But Bell established that all nerves are not similar—that distinct portions of the nervous system have different functions—that if two or more nerves go to one organ from different parts of the nervous system, that organ
has two or more properties—thence in future enabling the merest tyro in anatomy to assert unhesitatingly the number of endowments in any part of the frame of a newly discovered animal. Moreover, he first enunciated what the Marquis of Northampton has termed the grand fundamental principle of the nervous system'-that the nerves owe their endowments to their roots in the great nervous centres, the brain and spinal marrow. It was this key,' as Mr. Arnott has called it, which Bell invented, fashioned, and exhibited for use—a key without which the secrets of the nervous system had probably yet remained concealed. (Arnott's Hunterian Oration, p. 9.)
Bell's steps in reasoning may be thus tracked. He remarked that each nerve of sense had a distinct endowment, and arose from a distinct part of the brain, so that the nerve of vision never could serve for hearing, or that of taste for smelling. If the couching needle touched the outside of the eye, pain was caused—but the moment it penetrated and reached the optic nerve within, the puncture of that nerve caused no pain, but gave the mind the impression of a flash of light. A needle applied to certain