"A hot flash seems to burn across the brain."

— Bagehot, William (1826-1877)

April, 1871
"A hot flash seems to burn across the brain."
Metaphor in Context
Probably, when the subject is thoroughly examined, "conviction" will be proved to be one of the intensest of human emotions, and one most closely connected with the bodily state. In cases like the Caliph Omar's, it governs all other desires, absorbs the whole nature, and rules the whole life. And in such cases it is accompanied or preceded by the sensation that Scott makes his seer describe as the prelude to a prophecy:—

"At length the fatal answer came,
In characters of living flame—
Not spoke in word, nor blazed in scroll,
But borne and branded on my soul".
[See Scott's "Lady of the Lake," canto iv.]

A hot flash seems to burn across the brain. Men in these intense states of mind have altered all history, changed for better or worse the creed of myriads, and desolated or redeemed provinces and ages. Nor is this intensity a sign of truth, for it is precisely strongest in these points in which men differ most from each other. John Knox felt it in his anti-Catholicism; Ignatius Loyola in his anti-Protestantism; and both, I suppose, felt it as much as it is possible to feel it.
Reading David Bromwich, "Return to Reason," Harper's Magazine (February, 2018), 31.
William Bagehot, "On the Emotion of Conviction," from The Contemporary Review vol. 17 (1871): 32-40. <Link to Google Books>

Text from The Liberty Fund
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.