Antipathies

From Ten Thousand Wonderful Things, (Edmund Gillingham, ed. Routledge: London, 1894). One thinks of Orwell’s Room 101, that contains whatever it is that for you is “the worst thing in the world”.

The following are a few of the more striking manifestations of that unaccountable feeling of antipathy to certain objects, to which so many persons are subject, and with instances of which—in a modified form perhaps—most people are acquainted with:—

Erasmus, though a native of Rotterdam, had such an aversion to fish, that the smell of it threw him into a fever.

Ambrose Paré mentions a gentleman, who never could see an eel without fainting.

There is an account of another gentleman, who would fall into convulsions at the sight of a carp.

A lady, a native of France, always fainted on seeing boiled lobsters. Other persons from the same country experienced the same inconvenience from the smell of roses, though they were particularly partial to the odour of jonquils or tuberoses.

Joseph Scaliger and Peter Abono never could drink milk.

Cardan was particularly disgusted at the sight of eggs.

Uladislaus, king of Poland, could not bear to see apples.

If an apple was shown to Chesne, secretary to Francis I., he bled at the nose.

A gentleman, in the court of the emperor Ferdinand, would bleed at the nose on hearing the mewing of a cat, however great the distance might be from him.

Henry III. of France could never sit in a room with a cat.

The Duke of Schomberg had the same aversion.

M. de Lancre gives an account of a very sensible man, who was so terrified at seeing a hedgehog, that for two years he imagined his bowels were gnawed by such an animal.

The same author was intimate with a very brave officer, who was so terrified at the sight of a mouse, that he never dared to look at one unless he had his sword in his hand.

M. Vangheim, a great huntsman in Hanover, would faint, or, if he had sufficient time, would run away at the sight of a roasted pig.

John Rol, a gentleman in Alcantara, would swoon on hearing the word lana, wool, pronounced, although his cloak was woollen.

The philosophical Boyle could not conquer a strong aversion to the sound of water running through a pipe.

La Mothe le Vayer could not endure the sound of musical instruments, though he experienced a lively pleasure whenever it thundered.

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