The "eccentric" versus the "insane" in Victorian England may well have been identified by the amount of available disposable income--if you could afford your whimsy and misery, then you were "eccentric"; if not, then you were "insane", which also meant that you were culpable of being scooped up by The Authorities and interned if you turned out to be a larger/smellier/more obnoxious nuisance than a simple dot of the street. That or you may have wound up as an electrically-prodded subject in an experiment by Charles Darwin (Expression of Emotions....). In this way the past telescopes nicely into the present, less the electrical stimulation bit.
[Image Source: Daily Mail, here.]
The image shown below is that of Mr. James Lucas, "the Hermit of Red-Coat's Green, (near Hitchens)", living his life in a most uncommon hermit-like fashion, even for a hermit. Seems to me that a hermit would be removed from society and be away from people; Mr. Lucas may be of a singular caste of that genre, living his life alone in the very midst of society--he lived in the kitchen of his townhouse, in a single room with a window to the street. There he lived out his life in full and constant view of the passersby on the busy sidewalk. Crowds would come by and stare, and Mr. Lucas would stare back--he would rarely, if ever, communicate, though he would ("he was not miserly") give out "farthings and gin" to "swarms of tramps", no to mention sweetmeats to children. He'd watch people watching him.
He also didn't write (except we are told "upon a check"), and made no physical effort to retain anything that he thought about; nor was the reason for his uncommon lifestyle made known.
He was one son of "an opulent London merchant", and in time proved to be an incorrigible and strong-willed non-conformist (with the funds to do so in some comfort). He evidently went completely over the edge when his mother died, and after a year of keeping her body in the house removed to the kitchen, where he spent the rest of his days (living there from 1850 to 1874).
After he died and his room cleaned out for the sale of the family's property, it was discovered that the floor was covered in two feet of ashes and soot from the kitchen fireplace. Without the family money Mr. Lucas surely would've wound up on a cadaver table long before his seventieth year, suffering real social Dickensian travail rather than that which existed just in his mind.