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globe of the eye steady; but this was ultimately accomplished by Mr. Ware, who was kind enough on this occasion to lend me his able assistance. As soon as the couching needle touched the eye he remained quite steady, and his dreadful screaming ceased. I made use of the needle recommended by Mr. Cheselden, and with its sharp edge cut through the anterior portion of the crystalline capsule, and with its point dragged the lens from the sphere of the pupil. On depressing the point of the needle the lens remained out of view, except a small portion of its inferior edge, so that I then withdrew the instrument. A small quantity of blood was effused in the anterior chamber. The operation being finished, he was liberated from the machine in which he was fixed. He then expressed great satisfaction, gazed around him, and appeared as if he could distinguish objects. This, however, could not be ascertained in a manner quite satisfactory, as it would have been prejudicial to his recovery to make any experiments; but it might be perceived from the change in the expression of his countenance. The eye, accordingly, being bound up, he was carried home, and put to bed in a dark room; after which he was bled in the arm.
On the second day after the operation the eye was slightly inflamed. The bandage was continued, and he remained in the darkened room. He had been restless and impatient during the night, his skin dry and hot, and his pulse quicker than natural.
On the third day all febrile symptoms were gone, and he had slept well. His eye, too, appeared less inflamed, though easily irritated by exposure to light.
On the fourth day I examined the eye accurately, and observed the state of his vision. I found that the crystalline lens had altered its situation since the operation, and could be again distinguished, covering about one fourth of the upper edge of the pupil. The other part of the pupil was quite transparent, and all the blood which had been effused into the anterior chamber during the operation was now absorbed. On making trial if he could distinguish any object, he readily discerned a book placed on the coverlet of the bed, and in many of his attempts to touch it seemed to judge pretty accurately of its distance.
On the fifth day he got out of bed, and was brought into a room having an equal and moderate light. Before either touching or seeming to smell me he recognised me, which he expressed by the fear of something to be done to his eyes. He went about the room readily, and the appearance of his countenance was much altered, having acquired that look which indicated the enjoyment of vision. Indeeds before the operation he always walked with much freedom, and I had observed, that even on a very rugged and unequal road he did not stumble, or suffer in the least from jolting
He appeared well acquainted with the furniture of the room, having lived in it several days previous to the operation; and though, from placing things before him, he evidently distinguished and attempted to touch them, judging of their distances with tolerable accuracy, yet he seemed to trust little to the information given by the eye, and always turned away his head, while he carefully examined, by his sense of touch, the whole surfaces of the bodies presented to him.
On the sixth day he appeared stronger, amused himself a good deal with looking out at the window, and seemed to observe the carts and carriages which were passing in the street. On putting a shilling on the middle of a table he instantly touched it.
On the seventh day the inflammation was nearly gone, and he observed a piece of white paper of the size of half a sixpence put upon the table. I took him into the street, and he appeared much interested in the busy scene around him, though at times he seemed frightened. A post supporting a scaffold at the distance of two or three yards chiefly attracted his notice, and he timorously approached it, groping, and stretching out his hand cautiously until he touched it.
He was at this time removed from his lodging to an uncle's house, who, being a tailor, had a room full of various coloured clothes, which afforded young Mitchell an unceasing source of pleasure and amusement.
He expressed a great desire for a suit of new clothes, and it was signified to him that his wishes would be complied with ; and being allowed to make a choice, he selected from among the variety of colours a light yellow for his breeches, and a green colour for his coat and waistcoat. Accordingly these were made, and as I solicited bis father not to allow them to be put on until I was present, it was signified to him that he should have permission to wear them in two days. The mode by which he received this communication was by closing his eyelids, and bending down his head twice, thereby expressing that he must first have two sleeps. One day after the clothes were finished, I called and requested that he should be dressed in them. This was intimated to him by his uncle, touching his coat and giving him a ring of keys, one of which opened the door of the room where the clothes were kept. He gladly grasped the keys, and in an instant pitched on the one he wanted, opened the door, and brought a bundle containing his new suit into the room where his father, uncle, sister, another gentleman and myself were sitting. With a joyful smile he loosened the bundle, and took out of the coat pocket a pair of new white stockings, a pair of yellow gloves, and a pair of new shoes. The succeeding scene was, perhaps, one of the most ex. traordinary displays of sensual gratification which can well be con
ceived. He first began by trying his new shoes, after throwing away the old ones with great scorn, and then, with a smiling countenance, went to his father and to his sister, holding up to each of them and to me his feet in succession, that we might ad. mire his treasure.
He next put on the yellow gloves, and in like manner showing them to his father and sister, they expressed their admiration by patting him on his head and shoulders. He afterwards sat down opposite to a window, stretched out on each knee an expanded hand, and seemed to contemplate the beauty of his gloves with a degree of gratification scarcely to be imagined. At one time I attempted to deceive him by putting a yellow glove, very little soiled, in the place of his new ones. But this he instantly de. tected as a trick, and smiled, throwing away the old glove and demanding his new one. This occupation lasted a considerable time, after which he and his sister retired to another room, where he was dressed completely in his new suit. The expression of his countenance, on returning into the room in his gaudy uniform, excited universal laughter, and every means were taken to flatter his vanity and increase his delight!
Though the garments continued to occasion much delight, yet there were additional sources of enjoyment now laid open to him from his newly acquired powers of vision. One day I gave him a pair of green glasses to wear, in order to lessen the influence of the bright sunshine on his eye, which remained still irritable. Je looked through them at a number of objects in succession, and so great was his surprise, and so excessive his pleasure, that he burst into a loud fit of laughter. He continued to keep possession of the glasses, wearing which became one of his favourite amusements.
He, in general, seemed much pleased with objects which were of a white, and still more particularly those of a red colour. I observed him one day take from his pocket a piece of red sealingwax, which he appeared to have preserved for the beauty of its colour. A white waistcoat or white stockings pleased him exceedingly, and he always gave a marked preference to yellow gloves.
Young Mitchell left London towards the beginning of September, 1810, and returned home by sea. Soon after I received from his father the following account of his son: “James seemed much amused with the shipping in the river, and until we passed Yarmouth Roads. During the rest of the passage we were so far out at sea that there was little to attract his notice, except the objects around him on deck. He appeared to feel no anxiety till we reached this coast, and observed land and a boat coming along side of the vessel to carry some of the passengers on shore. He VOL. III. Nero Series.
seemed then to express both anxiety and joy, and we had no sooner got into the river which led to the landing-place, than he observed, from the side of the boat, the sandy bottom, and was desirous to get out. When we got to land he appeared happy, and felt impatient to proceed homewards. On our arrival that evening, after a journey of seventeen or eighteen miles, he expressed great pleasure on meeting with his mother and the rest of the family. He made signs that his eye had been operated upon, that he also saw with it, and at the same time signified that he was fixed in a particular posture, alluding to the machine in which he had been secured during the operation. He has now learnt to feed himself, and put on his own clothes. No particular object has yet attracted his attention in the way of amusement."
A considerable time elapsed before any further accounts of young Mitchell reached me. I then learnt that his sight, instead of improving, as I had been led to hope, was impaired, from the opaque crystalline lens not having been absorbed, and again covering the pupil ; an accident by no means unusual after couching the cataract.
Since that time, however, I have been informed that his sight has began to improve, the fragments of the lens, and opaque portion of its capsule, are undergoing a gradual absorption, and enabling him to distinguish objects which are not very minute, and of a bright colour. From this sense, therefore, he is not yet enabled to acquire much additional information, and it still seems only to afford him the enjoyment of feasting his eyes with light, and with various colours.
As he has advanced in life, his temper has become more irascible; he is less tractable; and he has all the signs of puberty. No circumstance in his history seems to show that he has any notion of difference in sex.
The picture which I have attempted to delineate of this boy's lamentable situation, whilst it must excite our sympathy, cannot fail at the same time to give rise to much philosophical speculation on one of the most interesting subjects which can engage the human understanding. It is a most wonderful and instructive experiment instituted by Nature herself to illustrate the progress of human intellect, to mark the influence of the different organs of perception in the development of its various faculties; thereby realizing what many philosophers have contemplated in imagina. tion, but never before witnessed.
The boy is now in Scotland, and Professor Dugald Stewart, to whom I have communicated every circumstance of his case, is taking a lively interest in procuring some suitable provision, which might enable the boy to be placed where an attempt could be made to educate him, and perhaps, also, to improve his sight br another operation. If this plan be executed under the immediate care and management of Mr. Stewart, every thing will be done which can promote the happiness of this interesting youth, whilst science will reap the benefit of the observations of one of the most ingenious and most profound philosophers of the present day.
THE ARAB PIRATES.
(From Morier's Travels in Persia.)
The Arabs in every age have been alike distinguished for a spirit of commerce and of plunder; and were early and great navigators, both as merchants and as pirates. In the time of Mahomed there existed a predatory tribe, whose chief is described in the Koran, according to Ebn Haukal, as “the king, who forcibly seized every sound ship.” This empire is said to have been founded prior to the time of Moses; and if the continuance of the same occupations on the spot be a proof of the identity of the people, it may be traced to the Arabs of the present day.
The Portuguese power was often violated by these pirates : and in the same age the English interests in the east were so much endangered by them, that one of the agents in Persia (who had all indeed successively made representations on the necessity of sending an armed force to destroy them) declared, that “ they were likely to become as great plagues in India as the Algerines were in Europe.” Some of these ships had from 30 to 50 guns; and one of their fleets, consisting of five ships, carried between them one thousand five hundred men. Within the last few years, their attacks have been almost indiscriminate ; nor had they learnt to respect even the English colours, as the instance in the text, and the subsequent capture of the Minerva, Captain Hopgood, proved too well. The British government, however, knowing the intimate connexion of these pirates on the coast with the Wahabee, proceeded in the suppression of the evil with cautious judgment; and when, by the extension of these outrages to themselves, they were driven to vindicate the honour of their flag, and to extirpate their enemies, they regarded all the ports, which had not actually included the British within their depredations, as still neutral; and endeavoured to confine their warfare to reprisals, for specific acte of violence, rather than to commit themselves generally against the Wahabee, by extending the attack to those of that alliance, who, amid all their piracies, had yet not violated the commerce of England.