Review of Reviews,  14 (1896), 17–36.

Character Sketch. Dr. Barnardo: The Father of "Nobody's Children"



Regular Feature, Biography


Vitalism, Energy, Morality, Telegraphy, Religion, Experimental Psychology, Psychical Research

    Remarks that as a medical student Thomas J Barnardo was 'a serious young man , about as unlike the typical Bob Sawyer [a character in The Pickwick Papers] as it is possible to imagine. And yet perhaps not so unlike. For Bob suffered chiefly from an absurdly wasteful method of working off excess of vitality. There are French physicians who maintain that girls at certain periods in their development display a tendency which, if it is not diverted to mysticism or religion, will find satisfaction in vice; so there is some possibility that the two students, variously known as Sawyer and Barnardo, are both object-lessons as to the excess of energy, in one case operating to the waste of tissue by intemperate excessive indulgence, in the other to the waste of nervous energy by excessive sacrifice in using every moment for the helping of others. In both cases there is relief, but there is the difference: relief à la Sawyer is relief by suicide; relief à la Barnardo is relief by salvation' (18). Also comments that 'Strange though it may seem, [Barnardo] believes in God as a kind of Telephone Exchange of the universe, who graciously allows Himself to be rung up whenever any of His creatures need anything to carry on' (26). The 'Prayer Telephone [...] differs from the ordinary contrivance, inasmuch as the Central arranges for calls before it is rung up', and 'this theory of anticipatory telepathy [is] a phenomenon familiar enough to those who experiment in the obscure regions of the sub-conscious' (29).

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