In A Human Moment

Miscellany from the 19th century

Dementia Praecox






Dementia praecox (a “premature dementia” or “precocious madness”) refers to a chronic, deteriorating psychotic disorder characterized by rapid cognitive disintegration, usually beginning in the late teens or early adulthood. It is a term first used in 1891 in this Latin form by Arnold Pick (1851–1924), a professor of psychiatry at the German branch of Charles University in Prague. His brief clinical report described the case of a person with a psychotic disorder resembling hebephrenia. It was popularized by German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin (1856–1926) in 1893, 1896 and 1899 in his first detailed textbook descriptions of a condition that would eventually be reframed into a substantially different disease concept and relabeled as schizophrenia.

“…Noll refers to dementia praecox ‘as a diagnosis of hopelessness from its creation.” The public along with alienists and other medical authorities viewed dementia praecox as “the terminal cancer of mental diseases.'”

“Beginning in 1896, as one American asylum after another slowly introduced dementia praecox as a diagnostic box, it became the most frequently diagnosed condition, labeling a quarter to a half of all patients in each institution. How American psychiatrists were making this diagnosis is anyone’s guess—they were probably just snap decisions based on whether someone was suffering from a “good prognosis madness” (such as manic depression) or a “bad prognosis madness” (dementia praecox). What we do know is that being young and male made it more likely someone would receive this diagnosis.” Noll

Further Reading
Further Reading
Further Reading

Image Source


The Divine Sarah at a Séance: 1892

Originally posted on Mrs Daffodil Digresses:

sarah bernhardt in coffin


Not Being Able to Understand How Spirits Are Materialized She Denounces Members of Her Company as Confederates


Darmont, Her Leading Man, Locked the Medium in the Cabinet, but the Actress Said He Had Been Duped.


Scientific Frenchmen Engineered the “Circle,” Which Broke up in Something Very Much Resembling a Row.

Mme. Sarah Bernhardt began by being an ordinary spectator at a spiritualistic séance on Thursday night, but before the close she was the “star performer,” and every one else, including the medium, the members of her company, the French scientific men present and perhaps the spirits, sank into insignificance when she stalked up and down the room in tragic rage.

Those who had the pleasure of witnessing her outbursts declare that they excelled anything she had done the previous evening in “Leah the Forsaken.” She was not…

View original 2,462 more words

Cunnilingus in the Middle Ages and the Problem of Understanding Past Sex Lives

Originally posted on NOTCHES:

By  Tom O’Donnell

In order to conjure up the sexual practices of our forebears we have to bridge gaps. Gaps in language, time and ways of thinking. In order to write a history of medieval sexuality we need to know what that sexuality consisted of. It is hard enough to mentally recreate the sex lives of our friends from idle gossip when we know the euphemisms, the forms of reference, what is on the sexual menu and what is thought permissible. But for medieval sex lives we have to work creatively with our sources to understand what people were doing with one another. And there is a constant challenge with the written sources.

Mouth of Hell, Meester van Katharina van Kleef, c. 1440

Mouth of Hell, Meester van Katharina van Kleef, c. 1440 ( Wikimedia Commons )

View original 638 more words

The Prayer of Siddartha



Atalanta (London, England), [Sunday], [July 01, 1888]; pg. 587; Issue 10
Gale Document Number: DX1902038533

Flower Fairies by Philip Bourke Marston

flower1 flower2

Atalanta (London, England), [Saturday], [October 01, 1887]; pg. 18; Issue 1.
Gale Document Number: DX1902038333

The Man For A Seance



Punch (London, England), Saturday, March 25, 1865; pg. 118
Gale Document Number: DX1901570612



A ‘s an American – FORSTER by name;
B stands for Bryanstone-street, whither he came;
C ‘s the Credulity that gives him his fling;
D is the Diamond he wears in a ring;
E ‘s the Effrontery, of which he’s possessed;
F ‘s the Fashion and Folly, by which he’s caressed;
G is the Guniea you pay to be cheated;
H is the Humbug to which you are treated;
I ‘s the Imposter no sane man deceiving;
J ‘s the Jackass, who joys in beliving;
K is the Kicking we’d give to him gaily;
L is the Lie, that the rouge’s living daily;
M is the Money he filches from fools;
N are the Ninnies he uses for tools;
O is Orthography – that he’s not versed in;
P is the Pick-Pocket Place he was nursed in;
Q stands for Quack – which for him the right term is;
R ‘s the Red name on his arm’s epidermis;
S is the Scratching by which it’s effected;
T is the Trick that will soon be detected;
U is the Urgent demand of his pocket;
V are the Victims, whose duping must stock it;
W ‘s for Whipping, he’s earned by his fraud;
X for Ten Years’ Penal Service abroad;
Y ‘s Yellow, which all Norfolk Island men wear;
Z is the Zest with which we’d send him there!

Fun (London, England), Saturday, April 19, 1862; pg. 44
Gale Document Number: DX1901459221
Image Source

(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-54984231-1′, ‘auto’);
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

A Letter-Writing Spirit


Miss Florence Marryat is an authoress and therefore given to story-telling; but the strange tale she tells in this month’s number of the Idler (Chatto and Windus) is written in the spirit of sober truth. The tale is one of many dealing with the subject of ghosts and spiritualism, the other contributors of more or less weird stories or experiences being Mrs Besant and Messrs A. P. Sinnett, Eden Philpotts, Tract and W. L. Alden. This is the Christmas number, by the bye, so that the “creepy” topic is introduced appropriately enough. There is plenty else of interest in the number – to wit, Mr. Rudyard Kipling’s poem “In the Neolithic Age” and his account of “My First Book”, Mr Jerome K. Jerome’s installment of graphic and discursive “Novel Notes.” Dr. A. Conan Doyle’s short tale, “The Los Amigos Fiasco” other complete stories by other well known writers and verses, pictures and “notions” galore making together a most abundant sixpenny worth. But to return to Miss Florence Marryat with apologies for having kept a lady waiting. This is her reminiscence:-

I was staying in the country house of an old friend – a lady who in her maiden days enjoyed the questionable advantage of being considered one of the most marvelous mediums in existence, but who now, having married and become the mother of a family, has long given up “sitting” as a practice. We never held a regular seance whilst I was with her. We only walked and talked and drove together, as old friends will do, and yet the most wonderful manifestations were constantly taking place in our presence, both by day and candle-light.

The most remarkable of these – at least, to me – were letters, which were written to me, day after day, in the handwriting of a friend who died thirty years ago in India and whose writing my hostess had never seen. These letters, which spoke of my most private affairs, and were always signed with my friend’s name, J. G. Powles, were found in all sorts of places and at all sorts of times, until I decided at last – although I never questioned the perfect faith of my hostess for one minute – to put the validity of my correspondence beyond all doubt. When I institute tests of Spiritualism, it is not for my own satisfaction, or to make sure of the medium, but that I may be able (as in this case) to rend my story credible for others.

These letters had always been written on my professional paper, which bore my name and address. On counting the sheets, I found I had forty-six left. I tied these sheets together with cotton, numbering them so as to make sure of no mistake, and, folding them in a large piece of paper, placed the packet in my writing-case and locked it. The case I put in my travelling trunk, which I also locked, securing the key round my neck. I did not mention what I had done to my hostess, and I quite thought I had put a spoke in Mr. Powles’s wheel. However, as we were sitting very quietly together that same evening, about seven o’clock, when it was quite light, and in a room apart from my bedroom, the leather writing case was suddenly thrown through the air into my lap.

It was still locked.

On opening it I found a fresh letter inside from J. G. Powles, written in ink and addressed to me. I then told my hostess what I had done and we visited my bedroom together, where we found the travelling trunk locked, just as I had left it in the morning. Indeed! how could it have been otherwise, when the key was still in the bosom of my dress? I wish I could give the letter verbatim here, but it related such private matters that I should be violating the secrets of others by doing so. The last paragraph ran thus:- “I have taken a lot of your paper, but you should not tie it up with cotton. I shall keep your lace but return your pen.” N.B. – The pen had been thrown into my lap with the writing-case. When I opened my box I found a lace fichu missing. I locked the box again, and went downstairs.

The next morning, as my hostess and I were in my bedroom after breakfast, I said to her, “I am going to unlock my box and see if Powles has put back my lace.” When I had opened the box, however, the fichu was still missing and I exclaimed, laughing, “Oh, that bothering boy! I hope he is not going to keep it altogether, for it is the last clean one I have left!”

As I spoke the words, the lace fichu came flying through the air right into my face. “Tis true, tis true!” but I cannot add, “and pity tis, tis true.”

Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle etc (Portsmouth, England), Saturday, December 17, 1892; Issue 5808
Gale Document Number: BC3206157527
Image Source

(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-54984231-1′, ‘auto’);
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

“…that wretched instrument and revolting song…”


Ghostly Music (from the New York Times)

Spiritualism which is represented by those who believe in it to be vastly superior to Christianity, differs, of course, from the latter in its revelations as to the state of music in the other world. The church has always held that the angelic host sings and plays on the harp and trumpet in a way altogether beyond the reach of criticism…But Spiritualism, on the other hand, shows us that the state of musical culture among ghosts is no better than that which characterises an Indiana country town. The average ghost plays only the most execrable instruments, and sings only the most empty and aggravating songs. As for producing a decent note with a trumpet, or playing the simplest melody with the harp, the ghosts of spiritualism have never even ventured to make the attempt.

When a “materialising seance” is held, the medium always requests the circle of believers to sing; alleging that under the influence of music ghosts materialise with comparative ease. But what are the songs that are sung in spiritual circles? The “Sweet Bye and Bye” is a fair sample of them. They are invariably the illiterate sentimental songs popular among people who know absolutely nothing about music.

They are sung through the nose with the mechanical sameness of the barrel-organ, and with a dragging of the time that is simply maddening. One would think that if the singing of the “Sweet Bye and Bye” could induce any ghost to materialise it would be a large one with a heavy club, and a wild desire to brain the singers. Unfortunately, this is not what ordinarily happens. The singing is followed by the appearance of ghosts who are in the best of tempers, and apparently satisfied with the “music” which has lured them from the other world. Of course this is fatal to our respect for ghosts. If a ghost will deliberately come to earth to hear people whose voices are as cracked as their brains sing the “Sweet Bye and Bye” they are wholly unfit to be noticed by persons of any sort of musical culture.

This being the kind of musical taste which prevails in the other world we need not be surprised to find that not a single ghost has yet materialised who can play on any decent instrument. What is even worse is the fact that the entire ghostly world seems to be given over to the accordion. Occasionally a ghost will strike the strings of a guitar so as to produce a discordant noise, but the accordion is positively the only instrument which ghosts will play in public. If spiritualism is true, it is evident that the first thing a disembodied spirit does is learn to play on the accordion. Men who in this world would have smitten to the earth the wretch who should have tried to place an accordion in their hands will in their ghostly state, take up the instrument from the medium’s table, and proceed to encourage its asthmatic wheezing.

It is certainly very strange that we should thus deteriorate after death. The late Daniel Webster was confessedly one of the greatest men of any age. He never played on any instrument, and in fact, had no liking whatever for music, but his views of the accordion were such as become a statesman, a Christian and a gentleman. Yet, now that he is dead, he has devoted himself with much assiduity to the accordion, and when he condescends to materialise for the benefit of a roomful of spiritualists – as he frequently does – he is pretty sure to say, “Gimme that there accordion and I’ll play a little suthin,” whereupon he plays the “Sweet Bye and Bye”, “Mollie Darling”, or “Beautiful Spring”.

George Washington is equally bad, and even Shakespeare has repeatedly shown that he shares the ghostly fondness for accordions.

Inevitably this casts a gloom over the future world. If, when we are dead, we sink to the accordion and find pleasure in the “Sweet Bye and Bye”, we are decidedly better off here than we will be hereafter. So far as we can learn from materialised ghosts, there is not a harp nor a brass instrument in the other world, and if there were there is not a ghost who could play on them. Were we to adopt the hypothesis that only the ghosts of bad men had the power to return to earth and that their familiarity with the accordion is acquired while undergoing punishment, we might feel a little encouraged gyt it point of fact, the ghosts of the very best and noblest men play the accordion, so that the hypothesis suggested is clearly untenable.

Our best plan is to decide that spiritualism cannot be true. It is far more probable that mediums lie and that spiritualists are deceived than it is that Daniel Webster and Dante play the accordion. Let us cherish our old belief in celestial harps and angelic trumpets, and hope that in the future life we shall be free from the sight and sound of the accordion. Perhaps the fallen angels, having dropped and broken their harps, torment miserable sinners by singing the “Sweet Bye and Bye”, and accompanying themselves on the accordion but surely in any other part of the universe of ghosts that wretched instrument and revolting song must be unknown.
The Blackburn Standard: Darwen Observer, and North-East Lancashire Advertiser (Blackburn, England), Saturday, July 02, 1881; pg. 2; Issue 23804.
Gale Document Number: R3208205767
Image Source:


(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-54984231-1′, ‘auto’);
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

A Backward Relation

a backward relation


The Bradford Observer (Bradford, England), Thursday, July 08, 1858; pg. 7; Issue 1277
Gale Document Number: R3207901078

Post Navigation


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 498 other followers