No Turn For Music

By Atom Bergstrom

Atom’s Blog

According to Adano Christopher Ley (Swami Nitty-Gritty) …

“We sell our cells short.”

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According to The Zoist (Oct. 1848) …

“A poor girl, when seven years of age, looked after cattle at a farmer’s, and slept next a room often occupied by an itinerant fiddler of great skill and addicted to playing refined pieces at night; but his performance was taken notice of her as only a disagreeable noise. She fell ill, and was removed to the house of a benevolent lady, whose servant she became. Some years after this change, she had fits of seep-waking, in which, after being two hours in bed, she became restless and began to mutter; and, after uttering sounds precisely like the tuning of a violin, would make a prelude, and then dash off into elaborate pieces of music, most clearly and accurately, and with the most delicate modulations. She sometimes stopped, made the sound of retuning her instrument, and began exactly where she left off. After a year or two she imitated an old piano also, which she was accustomed to hear in her present residence; and, in another year, began to talk, descanting fluently, most acutely and wittily, and with astounding mimickry and copious illustrations and imagery, on political, religious, and other subjects. For several years she was ignorant of all around her in the paroxysms; but, at about the age of sixteen, she began to observe those who were in her apartment, and could tell their number accurately, though the utmost care was taken to have the room darkened; and, when her eye-lids were raised, and a candle was brought near the eye, the pupil seemed insensible to light. She soon became capable of answering questions, and of noticing remarks made in her presence, and in both respects showed remarkable acuteness. ‘Her observations, indeed,’ says Dr. [John] Abercrombie [1780-1844], ‘were often of such a nature, and corresponded so exactly with characters and events, that by the country people she was believed to be endowed with supernatural power.

“During the whole period of this remarkable affection, which seems to have gone on for ten or eleven years, she was, when awake, a dull awkward girl, very slow in receiving instruction, though much care was bestowed upon her; and, in point of intellect, she was much inferior to the other servants of the family. In particular, she shewed no kind of turn for music.”

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