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BY S. WEIR MITCHELL, M. D., AUTHOR OF “IN WAR TIME," ETC.
inclined to gloomy prognostications, and this
weakened my capacity to do good. And yet E met by agreement at Vin- I was a conscientious man, and eager to do
cent's a week later. When what was right. I have, however, observed I came in St. Clair was that sanguine men, or men who deliberately talking of my story. and constantly predict relief or cure, do best.
“The possibilities of the If failure comes, it explains itself or may be exghost-tales are pretty well plained. I knew once a foxy old country docworked out," he said, “but tor, who said to me, “ Hide your indecisions ;
, Owen's was really fresh.” tell folks they will get well; tell their friends "The logical character of the old Scot in your your doubts afterward.” This may be one way story was past praise,” said Clayborne. of practising a profession; it was not mine.
“And what about the arrears ?” remarked A few years of practice wore me out, and Vincent. “I should like to be employed to I liked it in a way, and best of all the infinite bring suit for them."
varieties of life and character laid open to one's “Oh, I then and there made him write the view. At last I consulted Professor Nbill against Mr. Gillespie's ghost. The old “And you feel,” he said, “ more and more the banker was delighted when I told him the troubles and pain of your patients ? To feel story; he admitted the obligation, dead or alive, too sharply is not rare, and not bad for the he said, and he was as good as his word.” young. Sympathy should harden by repeated
“That ends it neatly," said Mrs. Vincent. blows into the tempered steel of usefulness, “And now we must really have the character which has values in proportion to what it has doctor.”
borne; otherwise it and you are useless. Get I went on to read it, saying:
out of our profession." And I did. I accepted “The friend who gave me, at my desire, the the chair of psychology at B— University, notes of a part of a rather odd life is now and plunged with joy into mere study. I soon abroad. I have woven what I knew of him found a want. The study of man in books and into his own account of himself, and have tried through self-observation became wearisome. to preserve the peculiar abruptness of his style." 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. THE CHARACTER DOCTOR.
Autopsychological study seemed to me proAt the age of twenty-three I was an or- fitless. Can a man see his own eyes move in phan. I was independent as to means, and by a mirror ? Also the single man is useless as profession a doctor of medicine. I began to a field of examination. You recall my lecture practise in L—, and, as I obtained only by on “Genera and Species of Mind," and on slow degrees the patients I needed rather than “Varieties of the Same." After all, it appeared wanted, I found increasing difficulties. If a case to me that what I wanted was to collect notes were painful, I suffered too. If it ended ill, I of characters, good, bad, and neutral, if there was tormented by self-reproaches. In a word, be such; to study motives, large and small, I was too sensitive to be of use. Weak or hys- and to collate them with the history of men terical women liked me and my too ready show intellectually regarded, and to see, also, how of sympathy. It was, in fact, real, and quite the moral nature modifies the mental product, too real for my good or my comfort. Moreover, and the reverse. Out of all this I must get I hated to be told that I had so much sympathy. some good for others. This my nature made It is a quality to use with wisdom. I could not imperative. I obtained a long holiday, which control it. It was valuable to some patients; it was supposed I would spend in Germany it was useless to many, or even did harm. It with Herr Valzenberg, whose study of the made me anxious when my mind told me there diameters of the nerve-cells in relation to crimiwas no need to be anxious. I was, in fact, too nal tendencies has attracted so much notice. intensely troubled at times over a child or a Nothing was further from my intention. I young mother to be efficient. Decided or pain- left B— in February, 1863, and a week later giving treatment I shrank from using. I was had an office in quiet West street in the city of
Baypoint. I put on my door "Sylvian West, GREAT SENSATION ON WEST STREET, Character Doctor.” You will see that I changed
Crowds assembled about a curious sign: my name. For this I had good reasons. I meant to be another.man for the time. I be
DR: SYLVIAN WEST, lieved that change of name would mentally
CHARACTER DOCTOR. assist me to this, and I had no desire to be called insane because I chose to strike out a Our reporter was courteous received by Dr. novel method of study, with which I meant to West, who said he was glad in the interest of the combine immediate utility.
public to answer any questions. The interview During my office hours I sat for a while near
was as follows: my window to observe the effect of my busi
“Yes; I am a character doctor. My business
is to furnish characters to those who need them. ness-sign. It was a rather pleasant study. The Also I attend to sick characters. Sometimes street was a quiet byway, but morning and whole families consult me as to the amendment evening many people of all classes passed and reconstruction of conflicting characters. Yes ; through it. Most of them went by with a pass- I expect to have a character hospital, with wards ing glance of amusement or vague curiosity; for jealousy, anger, folly." others paused in wonder, went on, looked back, and again went on. Some crossed the street Then came details of my life. How I was to make sure they had rightly read my sign. born in Kamchatka, etc. I let the paper fall
On the fourth day a young man crossed the in dismay. It was the dull season, and there street, rang the bell, and was shown into my was much more of it. The man's trade-habit office. I recognized the type at once. He was had been too much for him. I had more of very sprucely dressed, was not over-clean as them, but I gave up advising, and simply said to his hands, and in his side-pocket I saw the that I would not answer. Then they intertop of a note-book. He sat down as I rose viewed my maid, and, at last, the cook at the from my seat at the window.
back gate. It was almost as bad as the case Dr. West?” he said.
of my friend who found a reporter under his “ Yes. You are a reporter ?”
table just before a dinner he was to give to a “ I am. How did you guess that?” stranger of high position. I made a note upon
" It is simple. A note-book and pencil, the influence of business upon character. In soiled fingers, and, also —”
a few days the plague abated. “ Now that 's rather smart,” he broke in. Very soon my harvest began. At first I had " And what else ? "
an influx of Biddies, who each wanted a char“ Nothing."
acter. It seemed hard to make the public com“Well, you 're right anyway. I'm the so- prehend my purpose. cial reporter for the - Standard.''
One afternoon about five I was told that “ A collector of garbage to manure with some one wished to see me, and, leaving the fools' vanities the devil's farms,” I said. “You up-stairs room I reserved for my books, went may not be bad yourself, but you are part of down to the office. On the lounge lay a man a bad system. I do not want you.” On this about twenty, of a death-like pallor. He sprang his look of alert smartness suddenly faded. up as I came in, staggered, and fell back. I
He did not lose his temper, but replied in a saw that he was ill, and called to the maid to tone of some thoughtfulness:
bring wine, which he took eagerly. I said, “ A man must make a living.”
“When did you last eat?” “I wish,” I said, “there was such a phrase “At seven to-day.” as make a dying. That 's what you are mak- Upon this I went out and came back with ing. Go your way; mine is an honest business.” food.“ Eat," I said. By and by he rose, saying:
“ But the public are interested. The thing is “I thank you. I came to see you— for — but unusual. I should like to ask you a few questions.” now I must tell you all. I left the penitentiary to
“ As man to man let me ask you one. Are day. I got a year for stealing from my employer. you never ashamed of yourself?”
A woman was the cause. Ah, three months He flushed a little. “Well, sometimes. I would have done. When I got out I walked hate it."
and walked; I thought I could walk forever, “ Then go and sin no more," I said, rising. and at the corners the wind was in my face, “Good morning.” At this he too rose, re- sir. It was like heaven. Of a sudden Í grew placed the note-book he had drawn from his weak, and, seeing your sign, I came in. Now pocket, and, urging me no further, went out you know all. I fancy you 'll think I certainly with a simple “Good morning." He must be do need a character.” young at the business, I reflected, and perhaps “ Yes. Where are you going ? I may have done him good. I was undeceived “ To B-, in Indiana. I have my goodtwo days later when I read in the “Standard”: service money. I will go to L—, and then
walk. I am an Englishman. I have no friends my aunt left in his care, because she's in here. I was once in B- a little while." Europe. That safe kept me anxious. Yes, sir ;
“Now for my advice. You cannot walk. it seems silly, but my mind was on it, and I am Here, this will take you to B-You will just nearly through college, and I never have get on, I think. Pay me some day. Be tender had any cares. Of course it wore off by deto the wrong-doer in days to come, and marry grees, and then father came back. Indeed, sir, early - - a good woman, not a fool; mind that. he was worse troubled than I, but I think I Solomon's experience was large, and, as you have been nearly crazy. I mean the necklace may remember, he gave pretty much the same was gone. Why, I heard mother tell father I advice."
was very young and he must forgive me; but He looked at me, at the money, and began she sits in her room and rocks and rocks, and
takes valerian. And now there is a detective, “Don't,” I said. “I never could stand that,” and he searches the house, and the servants and went out of the room. In a few minutes look at me as if I were a thief, and that scounhe was gone. I ought to add that he did greatly drel he talked to me yesterday and guessed I'd prosper, and is to-day an esteemed citizen with best own up." many happy children.
“ And is that all?" About a week later a lad of seventeen called “No, sir; 1- they all try not to think I did on me. He was well dressed and well bred. it, and they believe I did. I think I must have As he faced me I saw that he looked troubled, done it. I was wondering when it was. If I and that he hesitated.
only knew what I did with it! Every one thinks “ Well,” I said.
I took it. But where is it? How can I confess “ You are a character doctor ? "
it? I am not sure.” “ Yes. What can I do for you ?”.
At this he rose and moved about, looked out “ I do not know. I don't know why I came of the window, and suddenly came back, sayhere at all. Do I look like a bad fellow ?” ing, “By George! there 's that detective." And he regarded me with eyes of honest calm- Sit down,” I said. “You need not tell me
you have been a good lad or worked at school." “ No; you are not bad."
“ I 'm in the honor list, and I 'm captain Maybe I 'm a fool. I saw in the paper that of the eleven,” he said, with sorrowful pride, you could tell if a man was bad, and why he “and to think — but I did it. It 's so.” was bad.”
“Hush!” I returned. “The man who slan“Oh, hang the papers! What is it?" ders himself is wicked or weak. You are only
“Do you think, sir, a fellow could steal and weak, and only that just now. You never did not know he did it?”
this act. I say so. If a dozen people say to a “Yes. Suppose you tell me your story.” man daily, “You are going to be ill,' that at last
Always people have been too ready to con- affects the most wholesome. If all you love fess things to me; it was one of the many tor- tell you in words, looks, and ways that you have ments of my life as a doctor.
been a thief, at last a man doubts the evidence “Well, suppose a fellow had the key of a safe of his own memory and conscience, and loses in charge, and something was missing. Could his mental equilibrium, and joins the majority any one have taken it but him?"
against himself. Then he is on the verge of I replied: “You are only half trusting me. becoming insane. Now, really, are all your Were I you I would be quite frank, or say no- people of one opinion ? .” thing — at least to me.”
“No; my sister Helen she just laughs at There was a certain sweetness in the young the whole thing. I mean when she don't cry." man's face as he looked up at me and said, “ Sister Helen has some sense, I should say. “Well, I know about doctors; they are like And now listen. Go and play cricket to-day. priests—but-"
Settle down to your work; you have neglected “ I am a physician."
it. Mind, these are prescriptions. It will come “ Must I tell you my name ?”
right. I know you for an honest gentleman; "No; merely what happened."
now hurry out of the door and detect your Well, father went out of town a month ago, detective. Tell him you have told me all, and left with me the key of the safe in his li- and come back to-morrow. And your name, brary—in our own house, you know. I did not please ?" want it, but my elder brother is ill in bed, and He hesitated, and said, “ Frederick Winsthere was no one else. The day father left he low.” showed me where all the papers were, in case “ And mind, make a good score at cricket, he wired for any of them, and also showed me and leave it all to me.” a necklace of emeralds my aunt— my au-nt, “ Thank you,” he said. “I must try, sir. I -oh, I came awfully near telling her name, – what is your charge ? ”
“ Let that rest now. When you go the de- cise, over-accurate man of sixty. No imaginatective will visit me. It is our turn now.” tion; horizons limited; undergoing in advance
A minute later, as I expected, the detec- physical, moral, and mental ossification. Of tive walked in. “Mr. Winslow," he said, “says course, as a character doctor, I was to him a he has told you all. I am Mr. Diggles. Here's queer, extra-social animal. I soon found that my card.” It bore a large eye in the center, and I must tell him my whole story. over it, “ John Diggles, Confidential Detective His astonishment was as large as his nature Agency."
let it be; but as he knew my people, and con“ Glad he owned up. Pretty smart boy, but ceded to the class to which we belonged larger they gets worried into lettin' out at last.” All privileges than he would admit for others, I this rather volubly.
was able to win his confidence. “ Sit down,” Í said. “You believe that I then explained to him my conviction as to young fellow stole an emerald necklace ?” his son's innocence. “ Why, who else could have done it?” “Oh, of course," he replied,
“ that is so. “ There is a reason for crime, usually ? ” But, then, the facts," —and he began elabor
“ Yes; I guess there is always reason for ately to describe them, ending with, “Of course wanting other folks' things. But he has told it was n't he, but who was it?” you he took it?”
I told him that the boy was being goaded “ No; and if he had, in the state he is in by hints, looks, doubts, half-beliefs, and the denow, I should not have believed him."
tective's folly into a form of mental disorder “Why? Not believe him! Why not ? ” which would end in the avowal of what he had “ Because you took it yourself.”
never done. At this he sprang to his feet and exclaimed, He was puzzled and alarmed, but, on care“I did not come here to be insulted.” ful examination, nothing new came out. On
I was about to explain that the probability my casually asking for his sick son, he said that of his being the thief was to me not less than of he was an invalid unable to walk; had neurasthe necklace having been stolen by my young thenia, and now, refusing to see doctors, recaptain of the cricket eleven, but something mained in bed. I was nearly at the end of my in the sudden Alush and rage of a man living resources; I asked if I might see him, for, after always in familiar nearness to crime gave me our talk, I had so won my way that I was alreason to hesitate. Crime for these men loses lowed to examine the safe, and to talk with the its horror, and becomes a mere enemy to be mother and daughter. technically dealt with. It troubles them as little Mr. Winslow said: “ Miss Winslow will take as deceit does the soldier, who plays the game you up. He dislikes me to come in. He says of war. Fraud is his weapon. I returned my boots creak. He says some people's boots quickly : “What has been your life compared always creak.” to this boy's? His has been honest, dutiful, and Miss Helen went up with me. I was on her correct. And yours? What have you been ?” side, as she knew. She said to me:
The man was singularly bewildered, and refuse to see you. Why do you want to see said nothing. I went on: “Who is most likely him ? " to be the thief, you or he? You had best go “ Because,” I said, “ we are in the tangle of home and say the prayer of a wiser man- a mystery, and he too is rather mysterious." * God be merciful to me, a fool.' ”
She laughed. “I see.” Clearly she had im“I want to know what that boy told you.” aginative possibilities, and I like that.
“ That you will never know. Send me that I said, “ I will go in alone.” lad's father."
“I would," she returned firmly. “ I won't do it.”
The room was in half light. I said as I went “ Take care how you act in this case.” in: “Mr. Winslow, I am a physician. Your “ You called me a thief."
father desires me to see you. My name is West. “ I did."
Let me open the windows." “Well, then, you look out, that's all.” He “Oh, if I must, I must,” he said peevishly. was clearly foolish, as well as angry. “You The food of light showed me a thin, apathink I stole that necklace. That 's the kind thetic man of thirty. I sat down. of character doctor you are!”
“ Open your eyes.” He obeyed. Then I " I said you were a thief. And now it is went carefully into his case, and at the close a man's character, his honor, you are helping he said : to steal, because you have no sense, and come “No, I can't walk or read; but I was betto a point on any obvious fact.”
ter until this necklace business. Every one “Oh, that 's all, is it ? "
bothers about it. Aunt – says it is for my The Winslows were well-known people, and I wife; and so I say, it is mine, and if I don't readily found Mr.Winslow. He was a slow, pre- care, who else need care ?"
As I rose to go he said : “My legs hurt me. and in a certain loosening of his features I saw Now you are here, just look at them." alarm and astonishment. I did so. There were on each leg bruises in
business abroad." the same place, below the knees. Hesitat- “ Name of Stimpson?" I urged. As I spoke ing, I went on to look at the feet. Then I I rose.“ Look here,” I said, “to-morrow you said: “That will do. What fire do you burn? will go to the house and ask leave to search Oh, soft coal, I see. I will think it over, that safe. The necklace will be found the day and see you again." Down-stairs I found Mr. after in a bundle of deeds.” Winslow.
“ Are you crazy ?” “ Well ?” he exclaimed.
“ No; but you will be, and worse, if that “Your son says he cannot walk. On his necklace is not found. Now, I know, and you soles are marks of the black from the fire. On have one day, and no more. Remember, I know. his legs are two bruises; one has a slight break It is this or ruin, and you are watched.” of the skin. Either he is untruthful, or he walks He looked at me a moment and then went in his sleep."
out without a word, and did precisely what I “ He did as a boy."
had ordered him to do. The result was that I had a watch set on the “And the necklace?" said Mrs. Vincent. invalid. After three nights he rose, lighted his “ Was found in a roll of deeds.
My friend candle, walked into his brother's room, and with goes on to say that his theory was that the curious care searched his clothes' pockets. At sleep-walker took the key, opened the safe, last he took a bundle of keys from one of them, and—who can say why?—removed the neckand went quietly down-stairs to the safe. He lace from its case, and put it inside a roll of old was quite unconscious of being watched, and papers. On the detective's more thorough foolishly but deliberately tried key after key, search at his first inspection, he found it, and small or large, and at last went back to his easily contrived to pocket it." bed, dropping the keys on the way.
Meanwhile, we were set astray by the elder When I was told of all this, I was greatly brother's somnambulism, which, I confess, mispuzzled, and regretted that the key of the safe led me in part. The rest explains itself. had not been left where he could get it. Saying “ The notes of the cases which follow are that I was still better satisfied of my young the last I shall read to you, although there are friend's innocence, I went away, and before go- others as interesting. I find he has classified ing home called at the steamer agency to en- them under headings." gage passage for the coming autumn. As I Case 31 consults me. entered I saw my detective go out of another X—, æt. 30. Male, good habits, fugitive door. After settling for my berth, I asked if ambitions, intellect about No. 12 of my scale. Mr. Diggles was going to Europe. The clerk Inexorably materialistic tendencies, with longsaid, “Who?"
ings to see things more spiritually. Want of imI replied, “ The man who just went out.” agination; general lack of persistent energy;
“Name of Stimpson,” said the clerk. “He hence constant efforts aborted by incapacity for sails next week.”
continued labor, and lack of the bribes offered The next day I sent for the man. He came by imagination. Shifts responsibility on to his early.
ancestral inheritances. A life of self-excuses, Any news ?” he said abruptly.
but says he is a failure. Advise the tonic of a “No; I merely wanted to ask you a question desperate love-affair with a woman of sense. He or two."
says the medicine seems to be wisely ordered, “ All right. Go ahead.” He exhibited no but who is to be the apothecary? Prognosis hostility.
bad. “When did you search the safe ? "
“I think I shall call on that doctor," said “The third day after Mr. Winslow came St. Clair, laughing. “I know an apothecary — home."
what next?” “ You did it thoroughly ? ”
“ I did. Mr. Winslow he had n't unrolled all Mrs. B-, æt. 33. Not a strong nature, the bundles. He said it was no use, they was but mildly disposed to do good, to attend to only deeds and such. I done it thorough." life's duties. No tastes, no strong traits; mor
“And are you not at the end of your ally anemic. Spoilt as a child; indulged by resources.”
a husband; petted by fortune. No intense ma“ No,sir. By this day month we shall have ternal instincts, and relieved of the care of her him. He is a boy, and he 'll try to sell or pawn children. Is bored to the limit of endurance, it. I 've got an eye on him.”
and is a little pleased with her capacity for “ But you sail next week.”
ennui; regards it as a distinction. A life withThe man suddenly tilted back his chair, out motives, and, as a result, peevish discon