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"No; none."

"And why don't you do something?"

" All has been done. We are face to face with the
inevitable."

"He seems as if he was working," said St. Clair.
" How flushed he is ! How hard he breathes ! And
he sweats like one who toils, and has no other expres-
sion. It is like a watch with the mainspring broken,
all a hurry of meaningless motion. And his hands,
how they twitch ! And this you call death. I told
you that I had never seen it before, and yet it looks
not unnatural. Have we some intuition of it ? I must
have seen it before."

The young nurse looked up at him with surprise.

" Ah ! " he said, recoiling. The mockery of laugh-
ter which sometimes contorts the face of death, the
risus sardonicus, passed over the features.

" Come," I said ; " you have had enough of this."

"No; I shall stay. May I stay?"

" Certainly. A seat, nurse. I will speak to the head
nurse." And I left him.




xrv.

OME time passed before we met to
hear my account of the character
doctor, and meanwhile St. Clair had
abruptly left town the day after our
hospital experience.

Mrs. Vincent was talking to her
husband when, just after dinner, I entered her draw-
ing-room.

" It is an age since we met," she cried, cordially.
" Sit down. Mr. Clayborne will be here shortly. And
what have you done to my poor St. Clair? Read
that," and she took from her work-basket a note dated
the night I last saw him.

I cannot dine with you to-morrow. I have seen to-night
what I shall be some day. It is horrible.

It was true, and he had gone away into the woods
for a fortnight, like a wounded animal. Nor did he
ever speak of it again, but came back as gay and joy-
ous as usual. I returned the note to her.

"How could you?" she said. "I should have
known how he would feel."

" I took him," I returned, " because he was reason-
able in his desire to see a man die. But I suppose
that, with all its awe, death is so constantly about us



202 CHARACTERISTICS.

doctors that we cannot estimate its influence upon
others. When I left him for he would stay he
was simply curious and contemplative."

" Do you remember," said Mrs. Vincent, " that de-
scription in Stendhal of the Italian who first sees death
of a sudden on a great battle-field his surprise, his
curiosity, and at last his terror? It is in his 'La
Chartreuse de Panne.'"

" No ; I will look at it, but I have seen all this in
war once or twice."

As she spoke, Clayborne came in. "Of what are
you speaking ? " he said.

" Of fear. Of the anguish of fear, uncontrollable,
like the fear in dreams."

" Yes ; the agony of terror," I returned. " One sees
it in the insane at times, and in delirium tremens.
There is nothing in normal life to compare with it."

" And were you ever afraid in war ? "

" Abominably. We were supposed as surgeons to
be non-combatants, but that means merely that one is
to run risks without the chance to quiet himself by
violent action. Practically, we lost in dead and hurt
a long list of surgeons."

"Indeed ? I did not know that. And what do you
think the best test, after all, of a man's courage ? " said
Vincent.

" To face a mob or a madman. I knew a man who
once by ill luck was shut up with a crazy, athletic
brute. My friend locked the door, hearing the man's
wife wailing outside. The brute, while suffering from
a delusion, had once hurt her ; and now again imagin-
ing her to have been false to him, meant to kill her.



CHAEACTERISTICS. 203

He asked for the key, and gave my friend five min-
utes to reflect, as he stood before him with a billet of
wood he had seized from the hearth."

" And what did your friend do ? "

" It was summer, and the windows were open. He
threw the key into the street."

"And what then?"

" Oh, help came just as it was wanted, which is rare
in this world. I have cut a long story short. My
friend said afterward that he was glad of the experi-
ence j that he had little hope of escape, and now felt
sure for the first time in his life that he was equal to
any test of courage."

" I can understand that," said Vincent. " In these
quiet days we are rarely tried as to courage. But,
after all, is n't it somewhat a matter of training of
profession? I suppose, North, it never enters into
your mind to fear contagious disease ? "

" Never ; except as to one disease : I have a fancy I
shall die of yeUow fever."

" Oh, but," said our hostess, " is n't it also true that
physicians do not take disease as others do ? "

" No ; that is a popular notion, but quite untrue. I
have thrice suffered from disease thus acquired : once
from smallpox, twice from diphtheria. In Ireland, in
the great typhus years, physicians died in frightful
numbers, and so did the old doctors here in yellow-
fever days. Unlike the soldier, we are always under
fire."

"I should certainly run from smallpox. I might
face a madman," said Mrs. Vincent. "As to war, I
should run."



204 CHARACTERISTICS.

"And I from a dog," said Clayborne. "And you,
Vincent?"

" I do not know," he returned. " I cannot imagine
anything which would make me visibly show fear. I
think I am more afraid of what Anne would think of
me than of any earthly object of dread. I can con-
ceive as possible what North mentioned. We must
have somewhere a nerve-organ or -organs which feel
what we call fear. Now, to have these so diseased as
to originate a sensation of causeless, overwhelming ter-
ror, uncontrollable by will, must be of possible human
torture the worst. And you have seen it ? "

"Yes. A man says, 'I am afraid.' You say, 'Of
what?' He cannot tell you. 'Of nothing. I am
afraid.'"

" Two things I fear," cried St. Clair, who had come
in silently behind us "pain and a ghost."

"So glad to see you," cried Mrs. Vincent. "Sit
down. We are discussing fear, cowardice, courage."

" Pain I fear most," he said, " yet hardly know it.
And a ghost ! Well, I know that. I have seen one."

"What? When? Where ?" they cried.

"Ask North," he replied.

"Yes, it is true; but first, before I come in with
skeptical comments, let us hear your story. You are
the only one here who has seen a ghost."

" I was in my studio six months ago at dusk. I was
thinking, as I stood, of how well my statue of Saul
looked, the light being dim, as it would have been in
his tent. I remembered then having seen the statues
of the Louvre on a moonlight night, when, with the
curator, I lingered along the hall of the great Venus.



CHARACTERISTICS. 205

Some of the fine lines of Sill's poem came back to me,
and, turning, I moved toward the front room to get
the book. At that moment I became aware of a black
figure on my left side. It was literally shrouded from
head to foot ; even the face and the extremities were
hidden. At first I was surprised, and then by degrees
a deadly fear possessed me. I was motionless, and it
did not stir. I turned to face it, but, as I did so, it
moved so as to keep relatively to me the same position.
The whole act, if I may call it that, lasted, I should
say, a minute. Then an agitation seized the form, as
if it were convulsed under its black cloak, and a faint
glow, like phosphorescence, ran along the lines of the
drapery, and it was gone."

When he had finished there was a moment of si-
lence. Then Mrs. Vincent exclaimed, " Was that all ? "

" A ghost in daytime," said Clayborne. " And the
comment, North."

" As he lost it," said I, " he felt a violent pain over
his left eye, and this was one of his usual attacks of
^ neuralgic headaches. He has seen this phantom twice
since. It was merely the substitution of a figure of a
cloaked man for the lines of zigzag light which usually
precede his headaches, and are not very rare. One
man sees stars falling, one a catharine-wheel ; but the
appearance of distinct human or other forms in their
place is a recent observation. I have known a woman
to see her dead sister, until, after many returns of the
V phantom, she ceased to be impressed by it."

" How disappointing ! " exclaimed Mrs. Vincent.

" And do you think these facts," said Vincent, " ex-
plain some ghost- tales ? "



206 CHAEACTEEISTICS.

"Yes, some. I have seen cases where the headache
did not follow the catharine-wheel, or the lines of
light, or the specter, or was very trifling. And in
some of these the ghost was duly honored as a true
article until subsequent and violent neuralgias ex- \/
plained it as a rare symptom of a common disorder."

" Is the disease itself understood ? " said Clayborne.
/ "No disease is understood. "We trace back the
threads a little way, and find a tangle none can un-
ravel."

"Then the disease is as bad as a ghost a real
ghost," cried Mrs. Vincent.

" I disbelieve in ghosts, and do not try at spiritual
explanations. The material for study of nature is
with us always. We cannot experiment on ghosts. I
know of at least but one hint in that direction."

"And that?" said Clayborne.

" Well, if the ghost be a real thing outside of us, you
will on theory double it if with a finger you press one
eye out of line, thus, and will then be able to say, like
the mousquetaire in the 'Ingoldsby Legends,' 'Mon
Dieu! Via deux.'"

" Which shows," said Mrs. Vincent, gaily, " how easily
V/ one may become the cause of duplicity in others. It is
a lesson in morals."

" Imagine Hamlet squinting at his papa ! " said St.
Clair. " I tried it on my ghost, but it failed. North
says he was only a monocularly projected phantom."

"That sounds reasonably explanatory," growled
Clayborne, grimly.

" But what does your phrase really mean ? " asked
Mrs. Vincent of me.



CHAEACTEEISTICS. 207

" It means that the phantom is present only to one
eye in these cases. To be able to double it, it must be
seen by both eyes and be really external. If it be only
in the brain, and due to brain disorder, we should not
be able to squint it into doubleness."

" But," said Vincent, " it ought, in the latter case, to
be present also when the eyes are shut. How is that ? "

" I am not sure as to that, for I have been told by
one person that her waking visions were seen with
either eye, and with both, and that they could not be
doubled by squinting, and were lost when the eyes
were closed."

" And how do you explain that ? "

" I do not yet. The patient was a remarkably in-
telligent woman, but hysterical, and the very suspicion
of this puts one on guard, because these people delight
to be considered peculiar, and their testimony must
always be carefully studied, and tested by that of
others."

" Tell us what she saw," said Mrs. Vincent.

"It is interesting, but I must cut it short. At
eleven daily a gigantic black man entered the room
with a huge bass viol, set it in a corner, and went out.
Presently a second brought in an open coffin in which
lay the patient herself. A little later a host of tiny
men, all in red medieval dresses, swarmed out of the
cracks of the viol, ran to the coffin, planted ladders
against it, sat in hordes on its upper edges, and, lower-
ing on the outside tiny buckets, brought them up full
of tinted sand. This they threw into the coffin until
it reached the face of the figure within. At this
moment the patient began to breathe with difficulty,



208 CHARACTERISTICS.

and then of a sudden the pygmies emptied the coffin
as quickly as they had filled it, and scuttled away into
the viol, while tie two blacks returned and took it
away with the coffin."

"What an extraordinary story ! " said St. Clair. "Can
you explain it all?"

" Yes, in a measure ; but it is hardly worth while.
And as for ghosts, the honest old-fashioned ghosts, does
any one believe in them ? "

" I do," said our hostess.

" And I do not," returned Clayborne.

" But do you believe anything ? " cried St. Clair.

" Yes," said Clayborne ; "I believe there was a past,
is a present, will be a future. And as to the rest "

" Granted the past. As to the future," said St. Clair,
" you cannot prove that it will be. But there is no
present, because that implies rest of a moving world,
swinging round with a moving solar system. It is a
mere word."

" What ! what ! what ! " cried Clayborne, suddenly
contemplative.

" And, after all," said Mrs. Vincent, " we have had
no really curdling ghost-story. Only nineteenth-cent-
ury explanations."

" It is dangerous to tell a ghost-story nowadays," I
returned. "A friend of mine once told one in print
out of his wicked head, just for the fun of it. It was
about a little dead child who rang up a doctor one
night, and took him to see her dying mother. Since
then he has been the prey of collectors of such mar-
vels. Psychical societies write to him; anxious be-
lievers and disbelievers in the supernatural assail him



CHAKACTEEISTICS. 209

with letters. He has written some fifty to lay this
ghost. How could he predict a day when he would
be taken seriously ? "

" I am very sleepy," said Mrs. Vincent, " and it is
near to twelve. You have not had the smoke you are
all hungering after."

" Clearly the character doctor must wait," said I.

" That may," she replied ; " but not one of you can
have a cigar until I hear a real ghost-story."

"Well," I said, "come close to me, all of you, and I
will ransom the party."

" Oh, this is too delightful ! " exclaimed Mrs. Vin-
cent.

" It is serious, Clayborne," I said ; " you might take
notes."

" Preposterous ! " he cried. " Might I not have even
a cigarette at the window ? "

" Not a whiff," said she ; " I have heard that smoke
acts on ghosts most injuriously."

" A ghost-smudge ! " cried Vincent. " That is good."

" Suppose we get through with this thing," groaned
the historian.

"It is brief, "I returned.

" One morning, last autumn, I found on my break-
fast-table a card, ' Alexander Gavin MacAllister, M. D.,
Edinburgh.' I know the man well. An able, sturdy
Scot, given to usquebaugh. He had a large practice
among the mechanic classes, and frequently consulted
me. If a friend desired to annoy him, he had but to
address him as Gavin. ' Gawin I was creesened, and
that 's my name.' He would have fought on this, or
for the honor of Scotland, or any man who thought



210 CHAEACTERISTICS.

Burns a lesser poet than Shakspere. My servant said
he had been waiting two hours. I said, < Show him in.'

" Ah, MacAHister,' 1 said, ' sit down. I did not want
you to wait. Talk away while I eat my breakfast ; or,
will you have some I '

" ' Nae bite, sir,' and after I had sent the servant
away, ' I 'm in vara deep waters. I hae killed a mon
last night, and I hae done it of knowleedge.'

" I looked at him curiously. Eyes, hair, beard, skin,
were all of various tints of red. All ' burned a burn-
ing flame together.' Also he was wet with the sweat
of terror.

" ' Let me hear/ I said. < A little whisky ? '

" ' Nae drap, sir. I hae a deep fear that 's the witeh
seduced me. I 'm of opeenion that wheesky must hae
petticoats, there 's such an abidin' leaven of meeschief
in her soceeiety. I maun try to tell you, but I 'm
nigher prayin' than talkin'. Ghosts and warlocks are
nae quietin' company.'

" ' Go on,' I said.

" < Dinna ye ken Mr. Gillespie, the banker 1'

" ' Yes j I see that it was reported that he died in
San Francisco two days ago.'

" ' It is so related. But I maun tell ye the hale case.'

"'Goon.'

" ' Last night I hae reason to suspect that I maun
hae been takin' bad wheesky. It was nae the honest
barley ; I blame the rye. It 's a warnin' to me for life,
if the gude Lord spares me to reform. Ye see, yes-
treen, after the Thistle Society, I went to the St.
Andrew's dinner. By ill fortune Mr. McGillivray sat
opposite to me. Aiblins ye ken Mr. McGillivray. The



CHAEACTEEISTICS. 211

mon has nae havin's, which is to say manners. He
made a very opprobrious remark concernin' the True
Kirk, By reason of too mony veenous counselors, I
had na the recht word to han'. And thinkin' he might
na understond me correctly if I bided too long, I cast
a bannock at his foul face. A gude bittie haggis he
threw at me. I wad na hae dune that to a dog. The
beast has nae senteement of nationality (it 's but a
Lowlander he is, after a'). A watermelon he got for
answer to his remark. It broke on his bald head, and
the sinner went doun in gore, or the like of it, after
the manner of the mon Sisera. And that terminated
the conversation vara sateesf actorily.

" ' The cheerman made a point of order that I, Alex-
ander MacAllister, was drunk, and I was over-per-
suaded by five men to gae hame. When I got in, there
on my slate was a message to go at once to veesit Mr.
Gillespie, at No. 9 St. Peter's Place. Vara ill, it said.

" ' Ye ken the mon's deid. I dinna ken why I went,
but the next I remember I was at his door. There
were lichts in the house, and a braw hussy of a maid
let me in. Preesently I was in a bedroom, and there
sat Mr. Gillespie, vara white, but dressed.

" ' " Tak' a seat, Gawin," he said, and I sat doun.

" ' Then he said, " Gawin, yer owin' me a year's
reent."

" < " Oh, aye," I said.

" * " I am deid," said he, " and the executors will be
hard. Now, Gawin, I want you to gie me a gude dose
of poison."

" ' " But you 're deid now," I said, and my hair stood
up like flax stubble, that stiff with fear.



212 CHARACTERISTICS.

" ' " I was a vara eccentric mon in the fleesh," he
said, " and I 'm uae less in the speerit. It has occurred
to me, Gawin, an I were weel poisoned I might die as
a ghaist, and get alive again. Dinna ye see the point,
mon ? "

" ' I said, " That is aye gude logic," and ye ken he
was a vara ingenious creature. " But war would be
my neck for takin' the life of a mon ? "

" ' " I 'm nae a mon, Gawin," he said ; " I 'm a ghaist,
and it 's only a change of state I 'm cravin'. And
there 's the reent. But ye maun mak' haste, or I will
call in Doctor O'Beirne."

" ' Gude Lord ! " I said, " ye canna mean that, Mr.
Gillespie. There 's a hantle of deaths at yon mon's
door."

i it Th en h e s the practitioner for me. I canna be
waur. My time 's short ; I was streakit yestreen, and
to-morrow I shall be put awa' in the ground. And
there 's the reent."

" ' " Wull ye f orgie me the arrears ? " I said.

"'"Iwull."

" l So I pulled out my little pocket-case, and mixed
him enough strychnia to kill the ghaist of a witch's cat.
He took it doun wi' a gulp.

"'"It's rather constreengent," he said, and yon
were his vara last words ; and then he fell doun in a
spawsm, and tied himself into bow-knots, and yelled
O Lord ! sir. I fled like Tarn O'Shanter, and here I
am. I hae killed a mon.'

" ' And then you went home ? '

"'That may be, sir. When I cam' to full knowl-
eedge of Alexander MacAUister I was seated on the



CHAKACTEKISTICS. 213

step of my door in the snaw. I went in, and will ye
creedit it? the slate was clean. But that maim be
the way wi' ghaist-writin'. It 's nae abidin'.'

" l But the man is alive, Grawin. There is a telegram
in the morning papers to say that the report of his
death was a mistake. He had a faint spell or a trance
something of the kind. He will be at home next
week. You must have been very drunk, Grawin.'

" ' I dinna ken. And there 's the reent, and I saw
it. Sir, a ghaist in spawsms. Nae, nae ; it was nae
a coeencidence. Dinna ye think, sir, considerin' the
service, a gude bill for the reent and arrears would
be but just?'

" ' Certainly/ I said ; ' he ought to pay.'

" ' I hae muckle doubt as to the matter. If he f or-
gies me the moneys, I '11 stond by the Kirk against
the whole clan of the McGillivrays to the mortal end
of my days. Might I hae a drop o' wheesky? No
matter what kind. I '11 neever blaspheme against the
rye again there's waur things.'"

" Delightful ! " cried Mrs. Vincent. "You have earned
your cigar," and we broke up amidst laughter in which
even Clayborne joined.




XV.



JE met by agreement at Vincent's a
week later. When I came in St.
Clair was talking of my story.

"The possibilities of the ghost-
tales are pretty well worked out," he
said, " but Owen's was really fresh."
" The logical character of the old Scot in your story
was past praise," said Clayborne.

" And what about the arrears ? " remarked Vincent.
" I should like to be employed to bring suit for them."
"Oh, I then and there made him write the bill
against Mr. Gillespie's ghost. The old banker was
delighted when I told him the story ; he admitted the
obligation, dead or alive, he said, and he was as good
as his word."

"That ends it neatly," said Mrs. Vincent. "And
now we must really have the character doctor."
I went on to read it, saying :

" The friend who gave me, at my desire, the notes
of a part of a rather odd life is now abroad. I have
woven what I knew of him into his own account of
himself, and have tried to preserve the peculiar abrupt-
ness of his style."



CHAEACTEEISTICS. 215



THE CHAEACTEE DOCTOE.

AT the age of twenty-three I was an orphan. I was
independent as to means, and by profession a doctor

of medicine. I began to practise in L , and, as I

obtained only by slow degrees the patients I needed
rather than wanted, I found increasing difficulties. If
a case were painful, I suffered too. If it ended ill, I
was tormented by self-reproaches. In a word, I was
too sensitive to be of use. Weak or hysterical women
liked me and my too ready show of sympathy. It
was, in fact, real, and quite too real for my good or
my comfort. Moreover, I hated to be told that I had
so much sympathy. It is a quality to use with wis-
dom. I could not control it. It was valuable to some
patients ; it was useless to many, or even did harm.
It made me anxious when my mind told me there was
no need to be anxious. I was, in fact, too intensely
troubled at times over a child or a young mother
to be efficient. Decided or pain-giving treatment I
shrank from using. I was inclined to gloomy prog-
nostications, and this weakened my capacity to do
good. And yet I was a conscientious man, and eager
to do what was right. I have, however, observed that
sanguine men, or men who deliberately and constantly
* predict relief or cure, do best. If failure comes, it ex-
plains itself or may be explained. I knew once a foxy
old country doctor, who said to me, " Hide your inde-
cisions ; tell folks they will get well ; tell their friends
your doubts afterward." This may be one way of
practising a profession ; it was not mine.

A few years of practice wore me out, and yet I liked
15






216 CHARACTEEISTICS.

it in a way, and best of all the infinite varieties of life
and character laid open to one's view. At last I con-
sulted Professor N . "And you feel," he said,

"more and more the troubles and pain of your
patients? To feel too sharply is not rare, and not
bad for the young. Sympathy should harden by re-
peated blows into the tempered steel of usefulness,
which has values in proportion to what it has borne ;
otherwise it and you are useless. Get out of our pro-
fession." And I did. I accepted the chair of psychol-
ogy at B University, and plunged with joy into

mere study. I soon found a want. The study of man
in books and through self -observation became weari-
some. The study of myself in the mirror of myself
made me morbid. I might have known it would.
There may be some who can do this. Autopsycholog-
ical study seemed to me profitless. Can a man see his
own eyes move in a mirror ? Also the single man is
useless as a field of examination. You recall my lect-
ure on " Genera and Species of Mind," and on " Varie-
ties of the Same." After all, it appeared to me that
what I wanted was to collect notes of characters, good,
bad, and neutral, if there be such ; to study motives,
large and small, and to collate them with the history
of men intellectually regarded, and to see, also, how
the moral nature modifies the mental product, and the
reverse. Out of all this I must get some good for
others. This my nature made imperative. I obtained
a long holiday, which it was supposed I would spend
in Germany with Herr Valzenberg, whose study of the
diameters of the nerve-cells in relation to criminal ten-
dencies has attracted so much notice.



CHAEACTERISTICS. 217

Nothing was further from my intention. I left

B in February, 1863, and a week later had an

office in quiet West street in the city of Baypoint. I
put on my door "Sylvian West, Character Doctor."
You will see that I changed my name. For this I had
good reasons. I meant to be another man for the
time. I believed that change of name would mentally
assist me to this, and I had no desire to be called insane
because I chose to strike out a novel method of study,


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