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My Experience As A Lunatic

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The confedérate íbice of (jen. Early liad gained (lie maítery in theSheuaiidoau valley, aud our demoralized batUÜQDs were falling back prccipitately tlirouh Winchester. Sheridan dashed upon the sectie, and lii: pregeuce, like a Bpell, ebecked tb'e retreat and inlu.s..d new courage nto tlic disordered inass. Our bittery reacbed a knoll ti) the lett of the pike, and umiinhered ín liont df a tiuitiered slupe, on the biw oí whirh bbd ennli-di-iates iiml osted a Iwavy battery. The intiintry line on nur í'iaM was advancins splendidly, and I ;-aw thc gleaniing crest ot btyoneti fuil when ihe order caiue tor u charle on rtie rtofMt quiok. ISright s'Jn.-liii.e was Mreaiuinjf íhrough the open curtain, and eeemed to have a wak eDed iue froiu prolongad sluiuber. Slowly uiy seattered acuses gathered l'roui dim uneonsciousness, and, as thought asMimed deBnite fortii, the scènes of' the battlo-flcld again flahed before me. "What of the charge?" I inquired, anxioui-ly, iuaking a desperate eftort to rie. The sharp, unnatural tone oi' my own voice startled me, and uiy strengt h was unequal to rustle even the covering of tny coaon. "Do not try to talk now, Charley; you will be stronger very soon." It was the voice of my wife. Ín i moment I realized that I was at home, on thc shores of' the Northern lake. I glanced through the window, and the waving branches associated with iny thoughts of the battle scène were not therc, but the suow !ay heavily on thefieldsglisteningin the sunshine. Many pionths have puaed away, a blank period in my existence. As I recovered mystrength and oooiprehension 1 leajned the critical ordeal 1 had pusscd in surviving a severe wound that caased fracture of the skull, and necessitated the operation of'trepanning. Still nmny more monttis elapsed before I was again abroad. The war was ended, and the people were rejoicing in the restorationof peace. I wastendereáami aceepted the old pnsition 1 had resigQcd in re sponsc to the cali of anns - tearl mathematics in the acadeniy of my nativc town. The routine of -the position was familiar cnough, but close attontion to it dutits shorlly devclopcd tho fact that my nei vm.s Bystem had not recoverod fiMui thu severc shock it had sustained, and my mental powors wcre impaired. As nearly a_s I could dofine, the effect produced, the injory Kcnied to have ioterruptod the harmoniou nction of tbc brain, and the right and left lobea appeared to opérate indepi-ndrntly, and take separate and distinct eognizance of einotions and sensatious conveyed by the medium ot the sentes. Every thought (o have iiduplicate, necessary to a coniplete iuapression. When I studied a ñngk problema and the solution oocurred, inioiediatcly would follow the njlutioo aKain, as if ciua nating from a secoud uiind uotintr in conjunction, and alwiiys a little slower in lts perceptions. This derangeiuent, vexaüous and confusing at first, continued toiooreaM as I devoted myself to mental labor, until finally I was compelled to abandon my po.-ition in the acadrinv. The necep;-ity was indeed a hardship, as it left me without the meansof sustenanoe. My brave and devoted wife bore np imUy under the afrliction, and inaisted tliat I should indulge the respose that my critical position demanded. Meantitne she turned the fine musical facilities awiuircd in better days to good account, and we continuod to live comtbrtably for a timo on the prooeeds of lur labor. Comfortably, did I say? No, it grievcd me eonstantly to see her toil ¦o arduously, with the doublé respoii?ibilrty of houselinld cares. And I knew that ber assumed cheevf'ulncss was the cover of painfulsolicitude she experienced on my behalf. This anziety did not favorably meel uiy derangement. It grew iuore tnarkcd and depressing. Vague fears haunted me liy day, and harrowed the long, gleeplegt hours of night. The strange perception of a doublé iutellect becamo so far defined that the seose.s were sympathetic. The sounds that reached luy ear were repeattd, as if by echo; taste and touch were fauciful and erratie, and at night weird, fant.-tic forma flitteil before my oyes, and real olj ¦( -j asMimed the sciiiblanee of what they were not, and drove me to the verge of' delirium ; whilethe effurt eonstantly exerted to retain uiy reason only the more r.strated the mental power.t. ritimately my nialady reached aMageat which I scemed to realize both physical and mental doublé existence. At times I uould distinctly see the f'orm and feature of niy second self diructly confronting and gazing upon my more imuiediate gelL And then my own voice addressed me, and we converaed togethor - myself and my second self - now condolingin common misery, and then in tantaiftmg and horrible improcatinns The terrible delusion becamc unbearable, and 1 feit that reason could not much longer ratain eommand of the disordered facultw.s. H was a uigUt when iuy uicutal a.s? liad reaehed a high degreo. My j wifr had thllpn asleep, overeóme with con¦tut care aud watt-hing. I was pacing the ;-uting-rooui of our chamber, about tbe hour o!' midoight as was my habit. OccaBionally l recltned on a sofa, in the hope oi cauliiuK :i slight rt'spile troai the tli-trcss (il'niy terrible hatiuctnatiuu; biu it was for a moment titiiy. ! ! y iiu#u gaÍTi dn the sofa. My brain seeniii! wliirling nablaze of flr.-, and L Bproag up rtrioken with madness. The horrible spector stood before uie and niocked uie with a tiendish grin of derision. I trasped a heavy piece of furniture and dashed at it with the fury of a maniac. The specter aeetned palpable to the blow, and yie.hied. I saw it vanish in darkness that spread befare me, and my tormentiog second tolf was gone. I broke forth in (Tal tic laughter, that retnrned in ahundred echocs arouod me, and I sauk exhausted, uneonscious to the floor. The moniing sun was shilling in upon me when l awoke to returning A oool perspiration OOBed timn m.v luroht:i 1. i ïoie or. uiy elbow, and, for Mime inomi'iits, udeavored to recall tn identity :in(l the rucollaotioba of the night. Then u liotriltle conviotiOD carne upon me. tirt'iu hoaveusl It was tae ! Itasm po ir devote'd wilt-- the Teality of the forui i 1 bad ila-lied down and destroyed in my i'c nzy. 3A 3 SLA 0 tiwlicliiiiil wilh reniorse, I rushed wiilly from the house and fled, I knew not whither. The greater grief that had come upon me reanimated uiy mental power, and I Mdruie ea rn in despair; but I shrank niwaidly from the disjlation that ruy own hand had wruught. It was .souie wetks after the dreadful uight I Lavedescribed that I reached New ork iMty, witliout dctectlon, a greater por tion of loe distaiiee wjrking as one of the ere of a canal boat. I wandered along the wharves of thi; iDetropolis, earohing anxun4y for o:iie me;uis of eapiug the country, nd lemming even to flee tte followsUip nf i'iviii.rd man. The oppnrtunity was firtally discovered in a ship about sailing around Cape Hom lor the racific coast, or bMfd ot' which mywrvices were acceptcd in a inenial capeiiy. 1 v:t swn safe from iliscovfry and pursuitj Mñ free unon the dounrUess watore- ntie couii] foei with the remorse oi a Liiúiiah ilted upon his soul, and the abanI nonttieiit (rf all li pe of' a happy hour in I life iga ".,! T ïKcd ñot Je.-cribe the experience of a liiii üiid te ilinus sea voyage, and the hardaliiK- and injignities put ujou rue in conMciueiicc of inetíi.:iency and lotal iguorance of a seainaii 's du'ies. To meU was of little aocounu But the chaugu of life and scene and itie sea air ha 1 a wotideriul ellcct iu lepuirmg my mental and physica) Ktrcngth. It was on lritiht Sopteuiber morning tbat I iirt i-.iocl tM luiíy Abres et California, and in a day or two thereaftcr sauntored along the streets of San Francisco, alone in a new wn'rU, w'ith only the couipanionship I of bitter ïucullorli'.iis. As neoessity reqoired, I sought employment, and inanaged to sutain myself, leading a listiess, purposeles- sort of lite. But the monotony so.)u became oppressive, and the apprehension of ui imate discovery excited renewed anxiety. Frequently I fancied the recognition of a familiar countenanceon the streets that keptmein painful unccrlainly. The diy catue in which my worst fears were realized. The miserable wretch in house I wassojuurning deüvcred me into the hands ofjustice. Hy what mcans he dktcovered my identity I could not detennine; bot I met tny fate boldly, for re mor .'¦'e had so far euibittered myexistenoe tbat 1 drisdained louger to struggle for its continuance. " Gentlemen," I exclaimed, as the officer inclosel my wrists with iion bliackles, "take your accuiaed reward ! 1 am Charles Harden, the murderer, froui - " ni. t 1.1 ff Xney uraggeu me to pnson, ana me om ceM of the law cauie and questioned ine. I told them all, and they transferred me to more secure confiueruent, lest I should escape again the rctribution of crime. L mg 1 lingered in the solitude of a glooniy cell, iwaiting the final decree of fiite, "uutil calm indifference suceceded drapair, and gradual ly every ouiotion, even lift tselt, aeemcd to subside ioto a dream. Uut :i day carne wheu my sensibilities scemed reanimating, like one emerging from a trance. Slowly my mind njanifested aotivity, and in tiiue I recalled my identity; thpn suddenly the recollection of my whole life flooded back upou iue and all the weight of its great burden of remorse again descended. An old man, whose kindly countennnce had become familiar to me as io a visión, ppeixed and sought to rally my despon dency with words of hope and enoourage" You liave had a long, bad pell, Harden," he continued, " but you are coming around all right now, and wül soon be out in the world again." ïhen 1 was not in a prison, but an insane asyloak TLunk lleaveu, my wretehed gu'ilt had not been discovered. Au 1 then I learned from the old man the circunistanceH of my arrest asa lunatic, and the nature of' my uffliction. In the operation ot trepunning at the hands of unskilled surgeons, a small splinter of the fractured slviiil had been left adhering in a posilion to irritate the inembrane of the brain, and this Irifling oversight had caused theinsanity attended with such sad results, to blaat the happiuesaof my life foreyer, and stamp my meiuory with the ignominy of murder. The derangement liad been effectively repaieed by the skillcd surgeon of the asylum, and my mind now rapidly recovered its orignal power. But what availed it, I reüected bitterly ; and why had I been restored froni peaceful lunacy to a consciousness to wbich death would be a relief. One mornin the old attendant of whom I have spoken mterrupted my gloomy med iratiuns with a counteuance more than.usually cheerful, that seeoied to radiate the liglil of bomu hidden hope. 'Harden," he remarked, "youaregrowing vigoroua again in both body and mind. I have a uiossage tbr you that may oxoite you a littlu. Do you think you can btand an aKrcaable surprise? " Auytliing agreeable to hear would indci'd, l.e a surprise," I replied, " Hut my dear friend, I fear the world could now hai-dly afford a message to me sumcient y pleasureable to innpire any appreciable excitenient. " Well, if you are confident to that extent, I will permit the bearer of tliis mes ,-:i2c to iiupart it directly to you." The old mwj wiihdrew, and prescntly returned with a coiupanion. A thrill, pre inonttory of souie great surprise, sUrtled me as L heard the approachiog footeteps. I raiscd my oye-s. Great heavens! tbey niet the old love look of my wife, redy to advHiice into my arms. The ardor witU whioh I returued uor embrace was assuring that my power of nervc was restored. Thú last great hallucination was dispelled and a ray of gladness burst in upon iny hcart, stroaiuing through the dark cloud of tlespaic that had hung over me those long aud wretehed years. I laughed and wept by turns. And thon 1 drew the recovered iroiHiire of my life more firmly to my breast, fearful I was still in a dreum, that ruight vanixh, and leave me again in miscry and despair. "And how did you follow me here?" I demanded, when sufficinntly collected to makc the inqairy. " There is jour address, " my wife replied, handinff me aneastern paper containin: the Following paragraph, copied trom a San Francisco paner : Kok 8rojKTON.-An uuknowu nmn was tnk.ii frora il boardlng-boiise on HiinHome streel yemerdny, and tiikrn before thccommUslonors of luiiacy, and by them committed to asylum at SUxkton. Frum "¦!¦ li Iw utlmrud Inuu Uis ímmU nnati, talk, lllS liaillf IS Charles Harden, trom New York city, and lie imagines Iiimself to have oommltted noiiw an lous crime. Hls ltisanlty 1h cuused by fracture of thpsknll, which hnd hfpii lmpiouerly livpannod." "And who was that T struck down aDc killed?" " Your own reflection in our pier-gla-s mirror, which was shattered to atonía the night you disappeared." And so it was my own seconil self, ant none other. Ve remain in California, my wife and I, lor its air is genial and its skies blue anc tiright; and if at times I recall the recol lection of' those long years of' wretchedness and deepair, it is that the contrast tnaj render the present uiore peaccful and happy-


Ann Arbor Courier
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