This final chapter explores why madness could evoke so much social anxiety. Fears of perceived rising lunacy rates were used as proof of over-civilization and decline. As the nineteenth century progressed, cure rates seemed to plummet, and degeneration literature flourished. Fear that madness was hereditary led to gloomy predictions about the decline of the British race paralleling conversations about urban decay and criminal classes. This chapter places medical conversations into broader cultural contexts. Particular masculine anxieties were linked to fears of overwork and the emasculated neurasthenic, the criminalized degenerate, and the alcoholic madman. A final focus on the diagnosis of General Paralysis of the Insane demonstrates the social construction of medical thinking. GPI was one of the few mental diseases that could be seen in the brain after death, and it had a relatively clear and consistent set of symptoms. Despite this, GPI was often diagnosed through lifestyle as much as symptomology. The fact that GPI seemed to affect men more than women and led to almost inevitable death made it the embodiment of degenerationist fantasies that only increased as the century progressed. Insanity was a central point of argument in theories of decline.
Chapter 5 provides an in-depth analysis of Dorothy Richardson’s private study of the physical and natural world through observation, experiment and collection – that is, her science. The single daughter of an academic family who supported scholarly endeavour, over a period of forty years, from the ages of twelve to fifty-three, Dorothy conducted her own travelling surveys of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Bath and London. This chapter shows how Dorothy adopted and adapted forms of scientific knowledge and methods from which women were usually excluded to inform her personal reflections on the travel environment, so forming a collection of observations and objects that lay somewhere between the curiosity, specimen and souvenir. It is argued that, by collecting specimens and noting down her observations during her travels, Dorothy formed a private space in which she could produce an understanding of science that was of her own making.
The final section of the book points to the significance of Edwardian thinking going into the twentieth century. The doctors deployed to treat soldiers in the First World War were largely trained in an Edwardian and Victorian medical world, and thus their understanding of men’s madness is the missing link to most studies of shell shock. This epilogue highlights the continuity of concerns over men and mental illness into the twentieth century.
Chapter 4 explores the different and competing understandings of science that intermingled during the period to reveal a more complex image of scientific collecting and of women’s role in this cultural practice – one that extends beyond the simple story of progression from the Early Modern curiosity cabinet to the Modern museum.
Chapter 7 traces the transformation of the cultural meanings of the travel souvenir from gift to keepsake. It argues that women exchanged keepsakes with each other to solidify and amplify friendships that transcended their lower status within the patriarchy. These friendships found their richest expression in travel because an object representing a friendship gains significance when that friendship is threatened by physical distance.
Chapter 1 explores the literature and art that contributed to the construction of an exclusive classical elite male Grand Tour narrative. It sets the scene for Chapter 2 by showing that women threatened the masculine foundations on which the Grand Tour narrative functioned and were therefore prevented from accessing the Tour’s classical legacy of taste.
This introduction outlines the scope of the book, its methodology and approach, and gives a brief discussion of historiography. The text sketches in broad strokes what examining the experience and representation of madness tells us about Victorian masculinity. This includes a study of sufferers, families, and the culture at large. It argues that the social, medical, and personal explanations of men’s insanity point to increasing anxieties about manhood and civilization in general over the course of the second half of the nineteenth century.
The Introduction outlines the primary purpose of the book – that is, to view the souvenir through a gendered lens – and its central research questions. It lays out the book’s three-part structure, which reflects three overlapping arenas for representing travel in the eighteenth century: connoisseurship, science and friendship. After establishing the significance of the souvenir, the Introduction proceeds to address four subjects in turn. Firstly, the woman tourists, the elite women who feature in the book, are introduced. Their involvement in the Grand Tour and domestic tourism within Britain is foregrounded in the history of the origins of the Grand Tour in the late seventeenth century. Secondly, gendering eighteenth-century travel: this study is placed within the scholarship on eighteenth-century women’s travel, travel literature, collecting and connoisseurship. The third and fourth subjects of the Introduction are two interrelated sets of challenges posed by gendering the souvenir. One is theoretical and concerns determining how women related to the objects they brought home, the other is methodological and concerns interpreting both the objects themselves and how they were represented in text. The third subject is gendering the souvenir: the theoretical frameworks of Walter Benjamin, Susan Stewart and Beverley Gordon are introduced and used to theoretically foreground the subject. Finally, reflecting on the souvenir: the scope, benefits and limitations of the methodology are discussed.
Chapter 6 is about the curiosity cabinet of the supreme traveller of this book, Lady Elizabeth Holland. Born into immense slave-based wealth as the only child (and universal heiress) of Richard and Mary Vassall, the proprietors of three Jamaican sugar plantations, Elizabeth had the economic clout to establish a name for herself as a scientific patron through travel collecting. All sources indicate that she did this because she had a genuine interest in science, which stemmed from its popularity at the time as an accessible polite pursuit for women and also her imperial connections. The natural resources from the New World provided Elizabeth with the means to build a collection of objects from Europe and across the globe that in turn imbued her with a worldly air and cosmopolitanism appropriate to her status as an heiress and the wife of a major figure in Whig politics. The chapter analyses how Elizabeth used the collection of specimens of natural history to establish a familiarity and ease amongst Europe’s key scientists on her Grand Tour from 1791 to 1796. It uncovers how she developed this network following her return home, arguing that the exchange and display of an ever-increasing array of objects, stemming from her Grand Tour, was a key mechanism by which Elizabeth contributed to the social circulation of science.
This chapter continues with the voice of the patient, but rather than focusing on those who were ashamed of their fate, here the patients fought back. Individuals and advocacy groups challenged diagnoses both inside and outside the asylum. This chapter explores how men fought back against certification and incarceration and attempted to restore their public reputations or regain their freedom. The chapter outlines the boundaries of madness, and the debate over the line between eccentricity and madness. Here Chancery lunacy cases take centre stage, widely publicized in the press as men of wealth and position battled to prove their sanity. Such situations were the worst-case scenarios for families of status and influence and demonstrate a complete breakdown in family coherence. The chapter ends with a series of case studies which played out in the public eye, exploring how and why different men challenged their diagnoses. Men’s chief justification for telling their stories can be grouped into three main motivations: an attempt to reassert their patriarchal control, an attempt to regain their freedom, and a desire to restore their reputation.