Basil HTML version

Chapter III.1
WHEN the blind are operated on for the restoration of sight, the same succouring
hand which has opened to them the visible world, immediately shuts out the
bright prospect again, for a time. A bandage is passed over the eyes, lest in the
first tenderness of the recovered sense, it should be fatally affected by the
sudden transition from darkness to light. But between the awful blank of total
privation of vision, and the temporary blank of vision merely veiled, there lies the
widest difference. In the moment of their restoration, the blind have had one
glimpse of light, flashing on them in an overpowering gleam of brightness, which
the thickest, closest veiling cannot extinguish. The new darkness is not like the
void darkness of old; it is filled with changing visions of brilliant colours and ever-
varying forms, rising, falling, whirling hither and thither with every second. Even
when the handkerchief is passed over them, the once sightless eyes, though
bandaged fast, are yet not blinded as they were before.
It was so with my mental vision. After the utter oblivion and darkness of a deep
swoon, consciousness flashed like light on my mind, when I found myself in my
father's presence, and in my own home. But, almost at the very moment when I
first awakened to the bewildering influence of that sight, a new darkness fell upon
my faculties--a darkness, this time, which was not utter oblivion; a peopled
darkness, like that which the bandage casts over the opened eyes of the blind.
I had sensations, I had thoughts, I had visions, now--but they all acted in the
frightful self-concentration of delirium. The lapse of time, the march of events, the
alternation of day and night, the persons who moved about me, the words they
spoke, the offices of kindness they did for me--all these were annihilated from the
period when I closed my eyes again, after having opened them for an instant on
my father, in my own study.
My first sensation (how soon it came after I had been brought home, I know not)
was of a terrible heat; a steady, blazing heat, which seemed to have shrivelled
and burnt up the whole of the little world around me, and to have left me alone to
suffer, but never to consume in it. After this, came a quick, restless,
unintermittent toiling of obscure thought, ever in the same darkened sphere, ever
on the same impenetrable subject, ever failing to reach some distant and
visionary result. It was as if something were imprisoned in my mind, and moving
always to and fro in it--moving, but never getting free.
Soon, these thoughts began to take a form that I could recognise.
In the clinging heat and fierce seething fever, to which neither waking nor
sleeping brought a breath of freshness or a dream of change, I began to act my
part over again, in the events that had passed, but in a strangely altered
character. Now, instead of placing implicit trust in others, as I had done; instead
of failing to discover a significance and a warning in each circumstance as it
arose, I was suspicious from the first--suspicious of Margaret, of her father, of her
mother, of Mannion, of the very servants in the house. In the hideous
phantasmagoria of my own calamity on which I now looked, my position was